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We intend to devote every effort to transform what has haunted the region as a symbol of fear and destruction into a triumph of human perseverance. G. BENNETT Radiation Effects Research Foundation Japan/USA . G. com As is well known and has been stressed by speakers in the first session of this conference, the Chernobyl accident was an unprecedented disaster of very large scale. There was widespread radioactive contamination of the environment, harmful consequences to human health, and also substantial social and economic costs.

This brief report is based on two detailed technical reports on health and environmental issues, in total about 400 pages of unique consolidated scientific information, and the aforementioned United Nations report ‘Strategy for Recovery’. In total, the documentation is quite comprehensive. At the request of the Governments of Belarus, the Russian Federation and Ukraine, the Forum has included very practical recommendations for further actions. A press campaign organized by public information experts from the IAEA, WHO and UNDP is covering the release of the Forum reports and this conference.

Investors stayed away. High unemployment and, particularly, underemployment were the result. For many, dependence on State benefits became a way of life. Lack of opportunity and fear of radiation prompted an exodus of young and skilled people from the region. The demographic profile of the region became badly skewed. An ageing population meant that deaths exceeded births, further fuelling fears that the region was somehow a poisonous death trap. As was the case across much of the former Soviet Union, life expectancy fell precipitously — though in Chernobyl, radiation rather than cardiovascular ailments or lifestyle causes such as alcohol and tobacco abuse, and accidents wrongly took the blame.

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