UKRAINE: Kyiv estimates that 19,500 children have been deported to Russia since last year, but Moscow denies kidnapping them and asserts that they were taken for their own safety. 30 children were reunited with their families this week following a protracted operation to bring them back from Russia.
Save Ukraine’s fifth rescue effort was unique due to the number of children it was able to bring back and the complexity of the journey. In terms of logistics, transportation, and planning, the organisation helped the families of Ukrainian children who had been relocated to Russia.
Mykola Kuleba, a former representative for children’s rights in Ukraine, said that no one in Russia had been looking for their parents in Ukraine and that the kids had been living with rats and cockroaches and had moved five times in the space of five months. They had been sent to summer camps in the seized Kharkiv and Kherson districts of Ukraine.
Three kids, two boys and a girl, were taken away from their parents and forced to attend summer camps in Russia. The occupied Kherson and Kharkiv districts were the locations of the camps. The kids claimed they were forced to spend four to six months at the camps and were frequently relocated.
The International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Vladimir Putin, the president of Russia, and Maria Lvova-Belova, the country’s commissioner for children’s rights, accusing them of kidnapping children from Ukraine.
The project has sent thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia under the guise of a humanitarian effort to aid orphans and children who have been abandoned in the combat area.
The ICC’s accusations against Putin and Lvova-Belova have been dismissed by Russia, which has declared the warrants against them unlawful and said it does not acknowledge the ICC’s jurisdiction.
At a news conference earlier this week, the commission claimed that it had moved no one against their will or the will of their parents or legal guardians and that it had done so out of humanitarian concerns to protect the interests of children in a region where military action was occurring.
Kateryna Rashevska, a lawyer for the Regional Center for Human Rights, a Ukrainian NGO, stated that they were gathering information to support their claim that Russian officials obstructed the return of Ukrainian youngsters to their homeland on purpose.
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