'devastating' | 

Children from Chernobyl will miss Christmas in Ireland for third year in a row

Young people with special needs from an orphanage in Belarus usually make an annual visit to Ireland, though Adi Roche has confirmed their Christmas in Ireland is cancelled this year.

Maeve McTaggartSunday World

Children from Chernobyl will miss out on visiting their Irish host families for the third year in a row, activist Adi Roche has revealed.

Since the 1986 nuclear disaster in Ukraine, the Tipperary woman has worked to support the children living in the aftermath.

Young people with special needs from an orphanage in Belarus usually make an annual visit to Ireland, though Adi Roche has confirmed their Christmas in Ireland is cancelled this year.

"It is with a very heavy heart that I share we are unable to bring our beloved Rest and Recuperation children and young adults to Ireland this year, due to challenges that have arisen as a result of Belarus' complicity in the war,” she told Evoke.

“Following the pandemic, this additional blow is devastating for the children who have now spent three years without seeing their Irish 'mamas and papas’.

The issues with the pandemic and the war in Ukraine have meant their host families have not been able to go visit them either.

She said the charity is concentrating their efforts on helping people “traumatised by the war” in Ukraine.

They recently provided 95 starving children in the radiation zone with food, she told Evoke.

She was happy to announce that a cardiac surgery team will be travelling to Lviv in Ukraine to help children still living with heart defects caused by the blast in Chernobyl.

"The first baby to be operated on is just four days old and will receive life-saving heart surgery, all thanks to Irish generosity, just in time for Christmas,” she said.

"Despite the horrors we are seeing reported on a daily basis, I am happy to say there are shards of light and hope, all thanks to the kind hearts of the Irish people.”

Adi Roche has previously said how the Christmas trip to Ireland is “the true meaning” of the holiday.

"There is nothing more magical than this moment for us in Chernobyl Children’s Charity,” she told independent.ie in 2019.

"It’s about family and giving – the family we gather round us and hold close at this time of year and the giving of our time with open hearts, open arms and open homes.”


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