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‘Get the children out’

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MAKING PLANS Professor Yury Bandazhevsky, pictured at the Point at the Quay in Westport on Monday afternoon, wants to locate a Chernobyl disaster research centre in Mayo. The world renowned Professor is now living in the county having fled from the war in Ukraine.  Pic: Karen Cox

Refugee academic aims to set up radiation research centre in Mayo

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Michael Gallagher

The world’s leading authority on the impact of the Chernobyl disaster wants to create  a research centre in Mayo.
Professor Yury Bandazhevsky will hold a press conference in Castlebar next Tuesday, April 26, to ask the world to support the project and enable him to continue his ground-breaking work on the impact of radiation poisoning.
“It is my life’s work. It is hugely important for the whole world, and I want the centre to be here in Mayo, where there is no interference, no dark cloud and no denials,” Bandazhevsky told The Mayo News.
The professor and his family arrived in Mayo last Thursday after being persuaded to leave war-torn Ukraine by Lily Luzan, of the Candle of Grace charity.
“He didn’t want to leave his research records behind,” she said.
He has worked on this day and night for 35 years and has thousands and thousands of files on the children of Chernobyl. I was so scared that he’d be killed by a bomb. If that happened all his knowledge, all his years of work would be lost, so we begged him to get out and come to Mayo.”
Ms Luzan is passionate about the work of the professor, as she and her family were living close to the Chernobyl nuclear facility on April 26, 1986, when explosions and a fire caused a catastrophic radiation leak.
“I remember us outside playing the following days, amazed by the weird rainbow colours in the puddles after it rained. Some of the kids were putting their hands into the puddles trying to figure out what the beautiful colours were. We didn’t know the terrible poison that was falling in the rain and floating in the breeze. We weren’t told about the disaster until May 2,” she stated.

Free to work
Ms Luzan and Professor Bandazhevsky have forged a strong bond in recent years, with the scientist being very impressed by the untiring work of Candle of Grace to assist residents in the immediate surroundings of Chernobyl on both sides of the Ukraine/Belarus border.
“The professor is the greatest man alive. All he cares about is people and helping them. He is so brave and wants to help people so much and has suffered a lot in life fighting for the Children of Chernobyl.
“That’s why he wants to build the research and treatment centre in Mayo where he will be free to work and help the world,” she added.
Bandazhevsky was released from prison in 2005 and banished from Belarus. He spent some years in France where he was given citizenship and also the honorary freedom of 21 European cities. He then moved to Ukraine, where he set up a medical and research centre outside Kyiv to help alleviate the suffering of those impacted by the radiation.
Already, the Head of Ivankiv’s Hospital in Ukraine has been in touch, extremely excited about the prospect of the evacuation and rehabilitation of children who are suffering from the impact of war in the Chernobyl area.
“All I want to do is help the people and tell the world about the situation and how it’s as bad now as ever before, following the fires in the area in 2020 and the bombing there in recent weeks.
“I want the world to get the children out of there. We must save the victims of the war in the Chernobyl area and get them to safety, and I will be saying that on April 26, as well as telling everyone about the centre we want to build in Mayo.”

‘Clean air’
But why is the world’s eminent authority on the long-term impact of radiation poisoning looking to build a research centre in west Mayo?
“I trust Lily Luzan and the people in Candle of Grace. The work they have done for the people on the ground for years has made a huge difference, and I would not have left Ukraine if it wasn’t for them. They kept telling me that I had to leave and come to Mayo, and I trusted them.
“This is a good place to build the centre. It’s a place where we can work and where the people can breathe clean air. It’s a place where people can feel safe and we can work every day.
“I’m asking the countries of the European Union to assist us and also help us in the evacuation and rehabilitation of Ukrainian people impacted by radiation and hostilities.”
Professor Bandazhevky and Candle of Grace charity will host a conference in The TF Royal Hotel , Castlebar, on Tuesday next, April 26, the anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster.
The event will begin at 6pm, and Bandazhevky will be joined on stage by a number of eminent colleagues from around the world.