Government urged to save Chernobyl children visas

Children brought to the UK by the Chernobyl Children's Lifeline charity with former Foreign Secretary, the late Robin Cook, in 1999 Credit: PA

A Conservative MP has called on the Government to re-think a move to withdraw free visas for children affected by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster visiting the UK for recuperative breaks.

Craig Whittaker told MPs in the Commons that the amount spent on the gratis visas was "so very small, it's almost embarrassing to say we are cutting this for these young dying children".

Whittaker said more than 46,000 young children have been brought over to stay with UK host families since 1992 and the breaks "prolonged the lives" of children.

However, the gratis visas are due to cease in March next year.

The 1986 disaster in Ukraine led to a dramatic increase in thyroid cancer cases among children living in the affected area.