125 children rescued from Chernobyl by Mayo charity

One hundred and twenty-five children who have been exposed to extremely high levels of radiation in Chernobyl due to the hostilities in Ukraine are coming to Ireland today, according to a Mayo-based charity.

The children, whose rescue has been organised by Candle of Grace in Castlebar, are being flown to Dublin in association with Ryanair, said Ms. Lily Luzan, founder of the charity.

They will arrive in Mayo later today where they are expected to be treated by the leading authority on the impact of the Chernobyl disaster, Prof Yury Bandazhevsky, who was persuaded recently by Ms Luzan to leave Ukraine with all his research records and resettle in Mayo.

The refugee academic aims to set up a radiation research centre in Mayo.

“We are getting the children out and into the clean air of the West of Ireland,” said Ms Luzan, who was a child when the Chernobyl disaster occurred on April 26, 1986.

She and her family were living close to the nuclear facility at the time.

Ms Luzan, who has lived in Ireland for the past two decades, has worked for many years to assist residents in the immediate surroundings of Chernobyl on both sides of the Ukraine/Belarus border.

The charity has stepped up its efforts dramatically since Russia launched its brutal war on Ukraine.

A statement issued by the Department of Justice stated: “A significant number of unaccompanied minors arrived into Ireland from Ukraine on Tuesday.

"It must be clarified that no child who has arrived in the State from Ukraine, either accompanied or unaccompanied, has been refused entry.

"As is normal procedure to ensure the safety and wellbeing of any unaccompanied minors, regardless of nationality or point of departure, Department of Justice officials from the Border Management Unit immediately notify Tusla, the child and family agency. Tusla, as is standard procedure, is assessing each child individually to ensure their safety and protection in Ireland.

"The government is clear that it is placing no limit on the number of people fleeing the war in Ukraine who will be welcomed here.

"However, established procedures for the protection of unaccompanied minors must be followed at all times. At all times, the best interests of each child is the paramount consideration.”