More than 100 children from the Chernobyl region touched down in Shannon Airport today to spend Christmas with host families across Ireland.
The youngsters, many from very impoverished backgrounds in Belarus, have travelled 3,000 miles for much-needed rest and recuperation which will help them recover from a number of physical and emotional conditions.
Visiting as part of the Chernobyl Children's Project International Christmas long-term care programme, they will also have medical check-ups and treatment for a variety of Chernobyl-related illnesses.
The children, who come from orphanages and institutions where Christmas would normally be a very bleak time for them, will now spend their Christmas holidays in loving homes in Cork, Galway, Limerick, Kerry, Tipperary, Meath, Carlow and Donegal.
"These beautiful children will give so much joy and happiness to their host families," said Adi Roche, charity founder and executive director.
"Their stay in Ireland bears testament to the generosity of the Irish people, and truly the spirit of Christmas will come alive for our families and volunteers who year after year host these children.
"We thank them for their generosity and for embracing the children into their hearts, into their homes and into their lives at this very special time of year."
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