This desperate appeal, made by Belarusian and Ukrainian doctors, was sent by fax and received by Adi Roche, then a volunteer with a nuclear disarmament group, in January 1991. The message was simple and to the point, begging someone—anyone—to take the children away from Chernobyl’s radioactive environment so that their bodies had some chance of recovery.
By the time this fax was sent, five years had passed since the nuclear disaster. The world had already started to forget about the millions of adults and children forced to live with its toxic after-effects. Many people believed that the danger was over, that the threat had been contained. In fact, the effects of intense radiation, mass displacement, poverty and lack of medical treatment continued to create intolerable conditions for the inhabitants of Belarus, Western Russia and the Ukraine.