Helen Clark reiterates support for Chernobyl assistance strategy

May 29, 2014

Minsk, Belarus — UNDP Administrator Helen Clark commended Belarus for the progress made on the recovery from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster during her four–day trip to Belarus which includes a visit today to Homiel, a region of Belarus most affected by the nuclear disaster.

"I am pleased to see that the country has moved forward after the catastrophe", said Helen Clark, referring to the huge disaster in 1986 at Chernobyl in Ukraine. It released radioactive pollution into the atmosphere, resulting in the displacement of large numbers of people from the immediate surroundings of the plant, which neighbours Belarus, and in very significant health impacts.

Over the past decade, UNDP has focused on the shift from the humanitarian assistance phase to the development phase of the response by addressing people's livelihoods and well–being, Helen Clark said.

Today Helen Clark has been speaking with local government officials from Homiel, located near the border with Ukraine. She will also talk with people who have benefited from UNDP assistance programmes designed to give people opportunities to improve their lives.

Tomorrow Helen Clark will meet with President Lukashenko and take part in the Inter–Agency Task Force on Chernobyl. It will provide a venue for UN agencies involved in the Chernobyl recovery, as well as the Governments of Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine and the international community to discuss progress in tackling the Chernobyl legacy and priorities for years to come.

"This will be a benchmark event as it is the first time this annual meeting has taken place in an affected country. It will launch a dialogue on the post–2016 international cooperation on Chernobyl, and look at how lessons from the Chernobyl recovery can be best utilized in disaster risk reduction and recovery work world–wide," said Helen Clark.

Tomorrow Helen Clark will also visit a Methadone Centre in Minsk to stress the importance of continuing expansion of the Opioid Substitution Therapy programme in order to have a significant impact on HIV prevention. The number of officially registered HIV cases rose from 8,737 in January 2011 to 16,169 in April 2014, an increase of 79.8 percent compared with 2007.

"I congratulate the Government for the excellent collaboration on fighting HIV and TB with UNDP and the Global Fund, and seek its support in expanding the antiretroviral therapy and methadone programme under Government leadership," she said.

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