This article situates Henrik Vigh’s concept of ‘chronic crisis’ in social disaster research and humanitarian studies in order to explore how child survivors experience and address the prolonged consequences of disasters. The rationale for mobilising the concept of chronic crisis is that it opens up possibilities for exploring the dynamics and multidimensionality of disasters and humanitarian responses to them. Using the example of nuclear disasters, the article looks at the enduring humanitarian initiatives of Italian non-governmental organisations in recuperating Chernobyl and Fukushima children in Italy. It focuses on the opportunities, challenges and outcomes of these recuperative programmes, and underscores the non-linearity of survivor agency. The article argues that chronic crisis in nuclear disasters can simultaneously contribute to deterioration and ruination of survivors’ lives, catharsis, and hope. It is further argued that humanitarianism can shape chronic crisis either by exacerbating the already-precarious conditions of human existence (through social discrimination and prejudice), or by alleviating survivor suffering (through social and cultural support).