The question of extending private invitations to the Belarusian minor children has been surfacing and the Alliance is being asked by organization leaders what the problems/issues of doing this would be. We have been sorting out this question by making many contacts and have received varied responses. This information was used to formulate the following position statement on this issue:
CofCUSA strongly suggests that organization leaders respect the Belarus rule of law (Decree 555) and the U.S. Department of State’s request to not be involved in extending private invitations. Here are the reasons why:
- The Department of State is working on behalf of our collective organizations to get an agreement put in place. DofS gets nothing out of this Agreement; it is solely being done for the Chernobyl children organizations. They have asked us to not bring children as they continue to work on a resolution. They, too, have political issues to deal with apart from ours.
- A Belarus government representative has basically asked us to obey their Decree, reminding us that the suspension has not been lifted, nor has an agreement been signed.
- Our primary Belarus NGO’s are not involved with providing assistance and have expressed their concern.
- We recognize that a host family may say “I’m going to do it anyway!” By your getting involved and assisting that family, you can very possibly put your organization in jeopardy for future involvement as well as the whole U.S. program. We strongly urge your organization to have no part in facilitating this effort by assisting or encouraging any of the families to take this step.
- And finally, for those who have a true calling to continue a respite program, thereby helping a child who is living under the shadow of the Chernobyl disaster, the groundwork is laid clear, and Ukrainian children in need are waiting.
We are continuing to press the U.S. Department of State to formulate a response to the Belarus government’s last response to them five months ago. I hope that you have written your Congressional letters to ask for some action to be taken on the health respite abroad agreement.
Let me know if I can answer any questions regarding this ongoing dilemma.