Ukraine returns 11 children from temporarily occupied Kherson region
As of September 14, 112 children have been returned from the territory of Kherson region temporarily occupied by Russians since the beginning of this year.
This was reported by the Kherson Regional Military Administration.
"They were returned to the territory controlled by Ukraine from the temporarily occupied part of Kherson region," the statement reads.
Of the 11 children, only two are deprived of parental care. The other nine have parents. The youngest of them is a three-year-old girl.
It is reported that the return was preceded by the hard work of Save Ukraine, the Office of the Ombudsman, the Ministry of Reintegration, the Ukrainian Child Rights Network, guardianship and custody authorities, and child services.
In total, 112 children from Kherson region were returned to the government-controlled territory of Ukraine in 2023.
Deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia and Belarus
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 revealed his awareness of over 19,300 children who had been deported by the Russians.
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.
On September 8, Ukraine returned 9 children who had been under temporary occupation to their parents. One of them survived Russian captivity and interrogation on trumped-up charges.
On September 11, Ukrainian Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights Dmytro Lubinets said that Ukraine had developed a mechanism for the return of Ukrainian children, which includes several stages.
On September 12, Mykola Kuleba, executive director of Save Ukraine and former Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights, announced the return of 13 children from the temporarily occupied territories.
On September 13, 3 more children aged 14-15 returned to Ukraine from Russia and the temporarily occupied territories. Now they will undergo rehabilitation and therapy.