Almost a quarter of Belarus is still contaminated from the explosion at Chernobyl. We take a look at what is being done to help the region's most vulnerable residents - its children.
A little girl whimpers pitifully as a blanket brushes her raw skin. "I'm desperate to help her, but I'm totally powerless," wails her mother. Veronika was not even born when the nuclear reactor exploded at Chernobyl. She has been dying all her life. Although 135,000 residents were displaced from areas near the plant, thousands still live in the less contaminated regions. Many desperate inhabitants rely on vegetables they grown in radioactive soil. "Since neither the family nor the state can supply the children with healthy food, they have to use contaminated food," states Prof Wassily Nesterenko, head of the Institute for Radiation safety. However, things are slowly improving. New hospices and cancer wards, funded by foreign aid, help alleviate the children's suffering and life expectancy in the region is slowly increasing. Thanks to these schemes, there is now a glimmer of hope for Chernobyl's children.