The Dutch Foreign Affairs Ministry has announced that it has reached agreement with the Belarussian authorities with respect to children who suffer health problems stemming from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 23 years ago. Free visits to the Netherlands are now set to continue after all, and the next group of children will arrive in time to celebrate the Dutch national holiday – Queen’s Day – on 30 April.
Belarussian President Alexander Lukashenko ruled in October last year that, in future, only children with cancer would be allowed to leave the country. The authorities in Belarus were reportedly worried that children allowed to leave the country for such holidays might apply for asylum.
Three private organisations fund trips for children from the Chernobyl region, thousands of whom have visited host families in the Netherlands over the years.