Chernobyl children in Israel

Photo by Chabad’s children of Chernobyl

Twenty-five children from the Chernobyl area have arrived in Israel to begin their lives anew. The latest airlift by Chabad’s Children of Chernobyl charity comes as the world marked the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster.

The children, aged six to 12, all suffer from medical conditions related to the Chernobyl explosion, the worst nuclear disaster in modern history.

And though Japan’s nuclear catastrophe headlined the news most recently, a quarter of a century after the Chernobyl tragedy occurred the area is still contaminated. A United Nations panel reports that close to 100,000 people in the Chernobyl area have died as a result of radioactive contamination.

“Even 25 years afterwards, there is still harmful radiation in the environment,” Yossi Swerdlove, the international director of Chabad Children of Chernobyl, told AOL News. “It affects children even more since they are growing.”

Chabad officials cite that the rate of thyroid disease is very high among the children and many have weakened immune systems.

This was the Chabad organization’s 93rd airlift rescuing the affected children from the devastated region. Chabad started these flights in 1990 and has brought more than 2,700 Jewish children to Israel.

The children – who come without their parents – live in special youth villages, staffed with medical and dental clinics as well as psychologists. About 50 percent of them end up staying in Israel.