UN Stressing Chernobyl Development

NEW YORK -- UN efforts to help people affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster two decades ago should focus on rebuilding self-reliance, a UN official said.

The UN General Assembly was expected to pass a resolution Tuesday saying UN activity in the region must move beyond humanitarian assistance in favor of a focus on development.

The resolution would proclaim the next 10 years as a "decade of recovery and sustainable development" for parts of Ukraine, where a reactor at the Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded in 1986, and in neighboring Belarus and Russia.

"Treating residents as victims has fostered fatalism and apathy," the UN Development Program's Cihan Sultanoglu said at a news conference Monday.

The proposed resolution expresses support for UNDP campaigns, including efforts to combat alcoholism and smoking, which the agency says pose a more serious health threat than radiation, and encourage reliance on radiation-resistant vegetables.