Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Foreign Affairs Brendan Smith has expressed his deep concern at the suspension of Chernobyl Children International’s programme in Ukraine, which provides life-saving cardiac surgery to children there.
For the past 10 years teams of surgeons from the US and Canada have travelled to Ukraine and Belarus 6 times a year to perform operations on children who have been diagnosed with a condition known as “Chernobyl Heart”. The surgery programme is a joint initiative between Ireland, Ukraine and the US. But it is now under threat due to the escalating violence in the Ukraine.
Deputy Smith commented, “The current crisis in the Ukraine is a tragedy in itself, and to hear that innocent children are now being deprived of life saving cardiac surgery because of this crisis is deeply distressing.
“Chernobyl Children International has been doing fantastic work improving the quality of life of countless children in the Ukraine through this vital surgery programme. The cancellation of this programme will potentially lead to the death of children who are desperately in need of life-saving surgery in the Ukraine.
“Cancelling this programme would be totally unnecessary. The politics of the current crisis in the Ukraine should not prevent these vital surgeries from going ahead.
“I am calling on the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs Éamon Gilmore to intervene and do all he can to ensure that these life-saving surgeries can still go ahead. I join with Adi Roche, the CEO of Chernobyl Children International, in calling for Ireland to play a leading role in trying to find a way, with its European partners, of easing the political and military crisis in Ukraine,” Deputy Smith concluded.