The Brussels-based NGO Human Rights Without Frontiers has filed a report taking stock about what it says is the “deportation of Ukrainian children by Russia from the territories occupied since the beginning of the war.”
According to the Adviser-Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Children’s Rights and Children’s Rehabilitation Daria Gerasymchuk, the Ukrainian authorities have collected personal data of about 20,000 cases although there might be ten times more according to “incontrollable” figures circulating both in Russia and in Ukraine.
The HRWF report reveals that only 386 children have found a way back home. They could not be returned through negotiations with the Russian side but every time it could only be achieved through a specific rescue operation, it says.
HRWF says that “on 17 March, the Pre-Trial Chamber of the International Criminal Court in The Hague issued arrest warrants or Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova for the alleged unlawful deportation of children.”
In the meantime, “a number of them have been illegally adopted by Russian families.”
“Today there is no international structure that could offer an effective mechanism for the return of our deported children,” Gerasymchuk is reported by HRWF as saying in an exclusive interview with Interfax Ukraine.
The HRWF report says, “A controversy broke out in July between Kyiv and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) when Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba claimed that Ukrainian children were in Belarus pictured with the Belarusian representative of the Red Cross.”
“Dmitry Shevtsov, was seen in camouflage with a chevron of the occupiers with the letter Z.”
HRWF adds, “Ukraine cooperates with the CAAC in order to stop and prevent violations against children during the conflict, and calls on the UN to fundamentally and persistently demand from the Russian Federation cooperation cooperation with the CAAC mechanism, access to all temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine, as well as to its territory, since the CAAC mandate includes child abduction crimes,” says the report.
In Ukraine, several cooperation structures between relevant ministries, the UN and UNICEF have been put in place.
In its recommendations, Human Rights Without Frontiers urges:
· Russia to ensure that no changes are made to the personal status of
Ukrainian children, including their citizenship;
· all parties to continue to ensure that the best interests of all children are respected, including by facilitating family tracing and reunification of unaccompanied and/or separated children who find themselves outside
borders or control lines without their families or guardians;
· parties to the conflict to grant child protection authorities access to these
children to facilitate family reunification;
· the UN Special Representative on “Children and Armed Conflicts’,
together with other UN agencies and partners, to consider ways to
facilitate such processes.