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Ukraine Urges UN To Demilitarise Area Near Chernobyl Plant

| Says currently, there is a risk of damaging confinement structures
built over Chernobyl destroyed nuclear power unit

KIEV  –  Ukraine has asked the United Nations (UN) to take actions on demilitarizing the exclusion zone around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant (NPP), the government-run Ukrinform news agency reported on Monday.

“We demand that the UN Security Council take immediate measures to demilitarize the exclusion zone of the Chernobyl NPP and establish a special UN mission to eliminate the risk of recurrence of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster,” Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk was quoted by the news agency as saying.

Currently, there is a risk of damaging the confinement structures built over the Chernobyl destroyed nuclear power unit No. 4 due to the hostilities and a large amount of ammunition in the area, Vereshchuk added.

On Sunday, Ukrainian Ombudswoman Lyudmyla Denisova said that forest fires, which broke out around the Chernobyl NPP due to hostilities, cover more than 10,000 hectares.

Ukrainian firefighters are unable to reach the area, which is controlled by Russian forces, Denisova added. The Chernobyl nuclear plant, some 110 km north of Kiev, suffered one of the worst nuclear accidents in human history on April 26, 1986.

On Feb. 24, Mykhailo Podoliak, advisor to the head of the President’s Office of Ukraine, said Russian forces had seized the plant.

At least 5,000 people have died in the besieged port city of Mariupol in southern Ukraine since Russia launched its invasion last month, a senior Ukrainian official told AFP Monday.

“About 5,000 people were buried, but the burials stopped 10 days ago because of continued shelling,” Tetyana Lomakina, a presidential adviser now in charge of humanitarian corridors, told AFP by phone.

She added that the number of people killed could only be estimated with bodies stuck under the rubble.

 “We could be talking about 10,000 dead,” she said.