Tears of joy at Shannon Airport as host families collect Chernobyl children

By Ciara Phelan

There were emotional scenes at Shannon Airport today when 135 children arrived from Chernobyl affected areas.

The Chernobyl Children International's (CCI) Rest and Recuperation Programme sees children coming to Ireland to stay with families for a number of weeks.

Host families from 13 counties across Ireland welcomed the children at the airport.

According to the charity, the month long holiday will enhance their lives, as radiation levels in the body drop by nearly 50 percent.

The organisers estimate that a visit to Ireland can also add up to two years to visitor's life expectancies.

Since the nuclear disaster in 1986, more than 25,000 children from Western Russia and Belarus have come to stay with families across Ireland.

Speaking after their arrival at Shannon airport earlier today, founder of CCI, Adi Roche praised the generosity of the Irish public.

“This is the manifestation of real love and action and the power of Irish generosity and compassion to keep going 31 years after Chernobyl. These [children] are the living embodiment of that disaster which happened in 1986 and in a sense they are the ones that show us that Chernobyl remains an unfolding disaster,” she said.

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