Ukraine returns four children illegally deported by Russia
Ukraine has returned home three boys and a 17-year-old girl who were illegally taken away by Russia during the full-scale invasion
This was announced by the Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak.
"We are returning home four Ukrainian children who were previously illegally deported by Russia," he wrote on Telegram.
Three boys – aged six, three and nine – and a 17-year-old girl have returned home.
Yermak emphasized that President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy had set a goal to return all Ukrainian children illegally deported by Russia. Work on the return of children is being implemented as part of the President's Bring Kids Back UA plan.
"Russia must be punished for genocide," Yermak said.
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 April 27, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe recognized the deportation of residents of the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine to Russia as genocide and welcomed the issuance of arrest warrants for Putin and Russian Commissioner for Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova by the International Criminal Court.
On the same day, Vladimir Putin signed a decree allowing for the deportation of Ukrainians for refusing to accept Russian passports.
A special report presented by the OSCE on May 4 stated that Russia's forced deportation of Ukrainian children could be recognized as a crime against humanity.
On May 14, the National Resistance Center reported that in the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, Russian invaders were forcibly issuing passports to children as young as 14 years old, threatening their parents.
On May 24, the Ukrainian Prosecutor's Office reported that Ukraine was investigating the possible role of Belarus in the forced deportation of children from the temporarily occupied territories. Criminal proceedings were opened.
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.
During medical examinations in the temporarily occupied territories, Russians give children fake diagnoses, and then force their parents to consent to so-called treatment or rehabilitation of their children in Russia.
President of Ukraine, Volodymyr Zelenskyy, recently acquainted himself with the Bring Kids Back UA plan, aimed at facilitating the repatriation of children who were illegally deported by Russia. He also participated in the opening of the Center for the Protection of Children's Rights.
Ukraine’s Human Rights Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets says Ukraine has confirmation that the forced deportation of Ukrainian children and prisoners of war took place on the territory of Belarus with the participation of the Belarusian authorities.
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Reintegration of the Temporarily Occupied Territories Iryna Vereshchuk said that Russia is changing the names and dates of birth of illegally deported children.
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.
On July 13, the National Resistance Centre reported that only during this month, Russians took about 280 children from the temporarily occupied Luhansk region to the Russian Republic of Kalmykia.
On Monday, July 17, the UK government imposed new sanctions against Russians involved in the illegal removal of children from Ukraine. These include the Russian Ministers of Culture and Education.
On July 18, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock called on UN countries to join forces and force Russia to return to Ukrainian parents their children taken against their will to Russia during the war in Ukraine.
Later, Pavel Latushko, head of the People's Anti-Crisis Management and representative of the UnitedTransitional Cabinet of Belarus, said that some Ukrainian children from the occupied territories who had been taken to Belarus for "rehabilitation" had not returned. However, the head of the Belarusian Red Cross Society, Dmitry Shevtsov, reacted to this statement and called it "accusations" against Belarus. In response, Kyslytsya asked the UN to respond to the Belarusian Red Cross's admission of deporting children from Ukraine.
On July 21, it was reported that the Russians had taken 100 children from the temporarily occupied territories of Kherson region to Saransk to a sanatorium. It also became known that the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment of the Russian Federation organized a "vacation" for 77 children from the temporarily occupied territories of Zaporizhzhia region in Stavropol.
On August 1, the US State Department called on Russia to stop deporting Ukrainian children from the occupied territories and to return them home.
On August 10, National Resistance Center reported Russian forces took teenagers from the temporarily occupied territories of the Donetsk region to military camps in Russia. The teenagers are being trained there, among other things.
On August 11, the self-proclaimed President of Belarus Alexander Lukashenko has confirmed that forcibly deported Ukrainian children are held in his country. He added that Russia, Belarus would continue to take children from Ukraine.
On October 13, Qatar has already facilitated the return of a Ukrainian 7-year-old child who was reunited with his grandmother and is heading to Ukraine via Estonia. Now a 2-year-old, a 9-year-old boys and a 17-year-old girl will be returned to Ukraine.