39 children from Chernobyl arrive to spend Christmas in Ireland

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster

39 children from Chernobyl arrive to spend Christmas in Ireland

Image: Dublin Airport

39 children with special needs have arrived in Ireland to spend Christmas with host families here.

The group from the Chernobyl region of Belarus arrived at Dublin Airport this afternoon.

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster - the fallout of which left many children orphaned, and others abandoned by parents unable to cope with the children's illnesses and disabilities.

Chernobyl Children International (CCI) organised the annual trip for children from the region.

CCI founder and voluntary CEO Adi Roche said: "The Irish people have been reaching out to these children for thirty years and not only has their enthusiasm and kindness never wavered - it actually grows every year. This year is particularly poignant as we have been reminiscing, throughout this 30th Anniversary year, about the children who have crossed our paths… many of whom aren’t with us anymore. 

"The care and affection given by Irish families to these children helps their physical health, mental health and their emotional and cognitive development."

She added: “For many of these children, nothing as magical as this will ever have happened in their lives. This is the true meaning of Christmas – it’s about family and sharing. Some of the host families at Dublin airport will have hosted children of Chernobyl many times before, and they will be the first to tell you how these children truly become part of the family and an integral part of Christmas traditions.