One week before the 26th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear explosion that rained down fallout across an entire swath of Eastern Europe, Chabad’s Children of Chernobyl brought 26 more children to safety and medical care in Israel, its 97th rescue mission.

“On this significant anniversary, thousands of children every day are still feeling the tragic consequences of the Chernobyl disaster,” said Nancy Spielberg, founding board member of CCOC, in a statement. “They are facing devastating illnesses from radiation contamination –radiation that will be with us for thousands of years. As we’ve seen from the recent Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster in Japan, the impact from this kind of radioactivity is as devastating today as it was 26 years ago.”

To date, the Chabad-Lubavitch run organization, which was designed to rescue those most vulnerable from the April 26, 1986 meltdown that left thousands of square kilometers uninhabitable, has helped 2,822 children escape the contaminated living conditions surrounding that portion of Ukraine. Most are brought to a sprawling educational and residential complex in the central Israeli village of Kfar Chabad, where they’re provided with medical care and social services.

The organization also provides medicine, equipment and other needed items for those who cannot leave Europe.

Spielberg pointed to World Health Organization statistics, which show the rate of thyroid cancer in the contaminated areas surrounding Chernobyl as more than 200 times the world norm.