Charity seeks help for children of Ukraine

Anti-government protesters clash with riot police outside Ukraine's parliament in Kiev'' (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
Anti-government protesters clash with riot police outside Ukraine's parliament in Kiev'' (AP Photo/Efrem Lukatsky)
A Merlin helicopter from Royal Naval Air Station Culdrose has been training with HMS Queen Elizabeth in Portsmouth Naval Base as part of her Rotary Wing Trials

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A CHARITY has put out a heartfelt plea to think about children who are caught up in civil unrest in Ukraine.

As protests in Ukraine turn deadly, killing at least 26 people, a charity that organises trips for children from the country and neighbouring Belarus to visit the UK has asked people to spare a thought for the innocents amongst the bloodshed.

Chernobyl Children’s Life Line organises visits to the UK for groups of young children affected by the Chernobyl disaster.

The groups visit Portsmouth, Hayling Island, Fareham and Gosport every summer and stay with host families, dramatically boosting the children’s health and education in just four weeks.

Dennis Vystavkin, the charity’s chief executive, said: ‘The last thing they needed was civil unrest. The country is further sinking into somewhere where you thought it could not any worse. For them a couple of months of unrest will damage the children for years.’

Tensions came to a head when President Viktor Yanukovych rejected a trade deal with the European Union in favour of a loan from Russia.

Around 20,000 anti-government protestors set up camp in Independence Square, in Kiev, which turned bloody on Monday when the government announced it would resume payments from Russia.

Mr Yanukovych last night said ‘negotiations’ had been agreed to start ending the bloodshed.

Mr Vystavkin, who is from Belarus, said some of the Ukrainian children have been prevented from going to Kiev to fill in application forms for visas, meaning they will not be able to visit the UK with the charity later this year.

He also said ordinary families have been split by the unrest, with some young men being drafted into national service to stand against their own mothers.

He said families are facing a ‘heartbreaking decision’ choosing whether to take an active position and express dissatisfaction with the government or to follow their national duty.

Mr Vystavkin said the tension would affect the children planned to be coming on trips to the south coast this summer and asked people to support the charity as it would be more important than ever to give them a break from the poor living conditions.

To get in touch with the charity, call 07952 290124 or e-mail

The Chernobyl disaster was a nuclear accident at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in 1986 which released large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere. Long-term effects such as cancers and deformities are still being accounted for.