More than 223,000 out of 1,300,000 Ukrainians who were forcibly deported to Russia since February 24, 2022, are children. More than 2,000 of them are orphans and children deprived of parental care from Luhansk and Donetsk regions who ended up in Moscow, Leningrad, Omsk and Vladimir regions of Russia. Some of them are swiftly prepared for adoption by Russian families. 540 orphans from Donetsk region, including Mariupol and Volnovakha kids, are now encamped in the Rostov region of Russia.
Russia abducts Ukrainian children and deports them to its territory in order to support its Genocide-like policy in Ukraine aimed to destroy the Ukrainian nation. This position of Ukraine was presented at the UN Security Council open debate on the Protection of civilians in armed conflicts on May 25. Forced evacuation of children is a blunt violation of the children’s rights declared in the UN Convention on the Rights of a Child. Deportations of children are illegal according to the 1949 Geneva Convention’s articles 4, 49 and 147.
Russia has recently intensified the abduction of Ukrainian children: President Vladimir Putin has voiced “concern” about the Ukrainian orphans and simplified laws for adoption of Ukrainian orphans into Russia. Moreover, Russia is ambitious about it: the aggressor will establish an “aid headquarters” to “help” the forcibly deported orphans find new families in Russia and ORDLO. This institution will be managed by the representatives of ORDLO that soon will rely on the unified adoption laws.
It is not the first time Russia is down to classical colonial practices: in 2014, Russia attempted to permanently transfer orphans from Luhansk, Donetsk regions and Crimea to Russian orphanages and foster families. The European Court for Human Rights (EHCR) helped return the kids, but the Russian State Duma passed a pair of bills to end the jurisdiction of the ECHR in the country on June 7, making the return of the kids who were taken after March 15 a much more sophisticated task.
Personal sanctions for individual and institutional perpetrators of the illegal deportation of orphans, as well as international criminal prosecution, are the long-term instruments that Ukraine has started planning. In the nearest future, Ukraine can cooperate with the UN institutions: and the first step would be for the UN to gain access to the Ukrainian children held in Russia and talk more specifically about their return with the invader’s governmental bodies.
- Lyudmyla Volynets, merited social worker of Ukraine, head of secretariat at the deputies’ union “Protecting children’s right – priority of the state”
- Iana Dabizha, Manager of the Executive Committee of the Enerhodar City Council
- Tetiana Skrypka, Member of Ukrainian Parliament.
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