Years ago in 1986, the world was faced with the catastrophe of the century in Chernobyl, Ukraine. A few small miscalculations of engineers created the biggest tragedy of the recent past. Thousands of people got cancer from the disaster. A few cities turned into “ghost cities.” Thousands of people had to move from their hometown. The enduring trauma of the catastrophe still continues for the elderly. Not surprisingly, the USSR economy was shaken thoroughly and went into decline.

Not only for Ukrainian people but for neighbouring countries, the fallout from the tragedy was a significant hazard. I can personally state that in my country of origin, Turkey, people were caught up in the calamity far too much. In the Black Sea region, which is the closest part of Turkey to Ukraine, people got cancer and other illnesses. Farm products were also affected. When I was in kindergarten, I remember school staff providing us unknowingly with contaminated nuts which were collected from near the Black Sea. Being kids, at the time, we were overjoyed to get them. Yet, even today, I do not know how much more likely I am to get cancer due to consuming them.

Also, when I was in Ukraine in 2010 for an internship, I wanted to visit Chernobyl, but my friends warned me against doing so. As, if someone goes there, they said, he or she must change clothes afterwards to avoid getting contaminated.

When we check news sources, we realise that the disaster still affects the quality of life for people, animals, and plants; even now, radiation is above safe levels.

My words are not enough to convey the extent of pain that has been endured. We can only hope that it never happens anywhere again.

Written by Oguz Yilmazlar

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