- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 9, 2002

From combined dispatches
KIEV U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, on a visit to Ukraine this week, acknowledged difficulty in rallying support for efforts to deal with the world's worst nuclear accident.
Mr. Annan's agenda included the inauguration of a U.N. program to raise the living standards of the estimated 5.7 million people living in areas contaminated by the explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear plant in 1986.
"We should not take our eyes off the ball," Mr. Annan told reporters. "The international community does have a responsibility; promises were made that have to be kept."
He also urged Ukraine's government to use the money it has allocated for Chernobyl relief more efficiently to "get much more out of it than we are doing now."
Mr. Annan toured the Chernobyl museum in Kiev and visited the Babi Yar memorial, where Nazi forces executed more than 100,000 Jews and others.
In a joint press conference with President Leonid Kuchma on Monday, he assured Ukraine he would keep reminding world leaders to maintain their support for dealing with the continuing health consequences of Chernobyl.
"We are going to remain engaged, and I can assure the president that in my own contact with world leaders I will encourage them to do the same," Mr. Annan said.
Ukraine closed down the last of four reactors of the Chernobyl power plant in December 2000 as part of a $2.3 billion deal with the world's richest nations.
But it still needs hundreds of millions of dollars in aid to cope with the health consequences of the disaster in one reactor, which contaminated large areas in the north of the country, along with stretches of Belarus and Russia.
From 15,000 to 30,000 people have died since the disaster, and the United Nations estimates that nearly 6 million people live in contaminated areas.

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