Ukraine fighting may affect Downham Market aid shipment to Belarus

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Fighting in Ukraine may affect a West Norfolk shipment of aid from reaching families still suffering from the effects of Chernoybl nuclear disaster.

Downham Rotary Club has spent months collecting educational and sports equipment along with basic supplies to send to the people of Gomel, a small village in Belarus.

Downham’s container will be among 14 trucks, organised by Chernobyl’s Children charity, which was due to leave Hull on Friday.

But Gomel and its 700 residents are less than 50 miles away from Ukraine’s north eastern border.

Tensions are rising in Ukraine between Government forces and pro-Russian separatists.

This project has been managed by Downham’s International committee chairman, Carole Samuel.

She said: “With the present situation in Ukraine, doubts have been expressed over 
the safety of the convoy’s drivers if a military situation 

“However, after talking to its drivers the organisation delivering the aid has decided that it should not delay in transporting it to those who so desperately need it.

“Downham Rotary and its collaborating clubs pray for their safe return.”

Nearly 30 years on from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster radiation still affecs those who lived in the city and the surrounding area. .

Downham Rotarians, supported by clubs in Hunstanton, Wisbech and Dereham, have been collecting toiletries along with pens, notebooks and pencils.

Members are also sending over English dictionaries to help with language skills and table tennis equipment. EDU Laboraties has also donated a microscope.

The rural village will also be receiving sheets, pillows and blankets to help youngsters through the bitter winters.

Later in the year, club president Alan Culley and Mrs Samuel will visit Gomel.

While in Belarus they will be buying a washing machine, lawn mower and chainsaw to help the village and its residents.