Espreso. Global

Children returned to Ukraine after abduction by Russia tell their stories in The Hague

16 September, 2023 Saturday
12:37

Six children who returned to Ukraine after being forcibly deported by Russia met with European leaders in The Hague to tell their stories in person and draw attention to the violations of children's rights committed by Russia

The press service of the Presidential Office reports.

The children were accompanied by the Ukrainian delegation, which included Dmytro Lubinets, Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights, Daria Herasymchuk,  President's Commissioner for Children's Rights and Children's Rehabilitation, Olexander Karasevych, Ambassador of Ukraine to the Netherlands, and Mariam Lambert, co-founder of the Orphans Feeding Foundation.

The meetings were held by Mrs. Hanke Bruins Slot, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, and representatives of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Dutch Parliament, Member of the European Parliament Catharina Rinzema and Peter Lewis, Secretary of the International Criminal Court.

As part of its mission, the Ukrainian delegation provided information on the forced displacement of Ukrainian children by the Russian Federation, including the mechanisms behind Russia's international crime. Representatives of the Dutch side personally heard the horrific stories of the forced deportation of six children.

Speaking with the Ukrainian delegation, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands Hanke Bruins Slot announced the intention of the Netherlands to support Ukraine in a new project on family reunification using DNA. Using express DNA tests, the Netherlands aims to help Ukraine create a DNA database that will allow to quickly establishing the family ties of children abducted by Russia and facilitate their return to their families.

Deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia: what is known

In the context of a full-scale invasion, Russia is deporting Ukrainian children en masse from the occupied territories of Ukraine. They are taken to the occupied Crimea, Russia or Belarus, allegedly for rehabilitation or to rest in camps.

On March 17, the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Russian leader Vladimir Putin and Russian Commissioner for Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova. They are suspected of forcibly deporting Ukrainian children.

On May 13, President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that more than 19,300 children deported by Russians were known to be missing. On May 29, Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets spoke at an informal meeting of the UN Security Council on the issue of Russia's abduction of children from the occupied territories of Ukraine. The Ombudsman said that Russia deliberately changes legislation to make it impossible for Ukrainian children to return home and uses, among other things, the forced change of their citizenship to Russian.

Lubinets also noted that Russia does not provide any data on Ukrainian deported children - it is not even known where they are and in what conditions. He also said that Russians use child labour and militarize Ukrainian children in the temporarily occupied territories.

On June 8, a US Senate committee supported a draft resolution condemning the abduction of Ukrainian children by Russia and calling the occupiers' actions genocide. Later, evidence emerged of Belarus' involvement in the deportation of Ukrainian children. On June 27, the Belarusian opposition submitted evidence to the International Criminal Court of the involvement of self-proclaimed head of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko and his entourage in war crimes.

In return, the Russian State Duma stated that 700,000 Ukrainian children had been deported to Russia since 2014.

Since March, when the Coordination Headquarters for the Protection of Children's Rights under Martial Law was established, a total of 386 minors have been returned to Ukraine from Russia.

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