Adi Roche at the entrance of the Dnieper River bridge that crosses over to the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. Photo: Julien Behal

Chernobyl quietly remembered

“Nuclear nightmares have no end. We need to act on peace now, before it’s too late.”

Those were the words of Adi Roche ahead of the 37th anniversary of Chernobyl which was quietly commemorated worldwide yesterday, Wednesday, despite an ominous nuclear threat lingering, as a result of the war in Ukraine.

Adi Roche of the Cork-based Chernobyl Children International (CCI) charity, who pioneered this day of commemoration at the United Nations in 2016, called for diplomatic measures to be “urgently taken” in the hopes of brokering peace as the intensifying nuclear threat is putting the world on the precipice, she said, “of a humanitarian Armageddon”. Roche’s call for peace came as the situation at Europe’s largest nuclear power plant, Zaporizhzhia, remains increasingly volatile and unpredictable, as it is an active combat zone. She said the plant, which was the 2nd to be occupied after Chernobyl, has reported further explosions at the nuclear facility in recent weeks.

She said: “Today let us put pen to paper and rewrite the narrative of this war to one of peace. Let us be ambitious for peace! Otherwise, we sleepwalk humanity into a wider war and potential humanitarian Armageddon with our eyes not shut, but wide open. With this weaponising of nuclear power, we cannot stress enough the risk that Chernobyl and now Zaporizhzhia poses. If we remain silent…we are playing with a loaded gun.

“Nuclear nightmares have no end. We need to act on peace now, before it’s too late. Any use of nuclear weapons, or targeting of power plants, needs to be stopped immediately. As we learned from Hiroshima, Nagaskai and Chernobyl when we have no regard for consequences, can only lead to one, devastating outcome.” Since the beginning of the war and the invasion of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in February 2022, CCI has been advocating for all nuclear facilities be deemed a ‘No War Zone’ and for world leaders to invoke the Hague Convention which defines any attack on a nuclear facility to be a war crime.

CCI had the infrastructure to immediately respond in the Chernobyl regions affected by the war, nimbly and quickly. The charity were not only able to continue programmes, but also expanded them, while targeting areas of unique need in Ukraine.

This included moving their life-saving cardiac programme cross country from east to west and supporting mental health of child victims of war crimes in the Chernobyl zone, as they had experience in mitigating child trauma already.