Talks to repatriate Ukrainian children illegally deported by Russia

The inaugural session of the International Coalition on the Repatriation of Ukrainian Children opened in Kyiv on Friday. Official Ukrainian records indicate that over 19,000 Ukrainian children have been illegally taken to Russia since the start of the war.

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Addressing the meeting, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy accused Russia of a deliberate campaign to sever connections between children and their Ukrainian roots. He highlighted the spreading of falsehoods about Ukraine and the war, coupled with the illicit adoption of children, even when they express a desire to be reunited with their Ukrainian relatives.

Dmytro Lubinets, the Ukrainian Parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, emphasised the need for a comprehensive mechanism to identify Ukrainian children in Russian custody. He also stressed the importance of establishing a streamlined process for their return, accompanied by financial support and assistance upon their return to Ukrainian territory.

The coalition issued a collective statement pledging to make every possible effort to repatriate Ukrainian children as well as facilitating their reintegration and counteracting the impact of Russian propaganda. 

Additionally, the coalition aims to hold accountable those Russian officials responsible for the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children. In this instance, only 387 children have been successfully repatriated.

The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s Children Rights Commissioner Mariya Lvova-Belova for their involvement in the illicit deportation of Ukrainian children.

This warrant has allegedly complicated Putin’s international travels, prompting him to employ fighter jets to escort him during his recent visit to the Middle East.