A group of 31 Ukrainian children returned to their homes after having been kidnapped by Russian troops in the context of the war.
“Today we welcome another 31 who had been illegally transferred to Russia from occupied territories”, celebrated Mykola Kulebawho runs the association Save Ukraine who has been working for more than a year against these forced deportations and the rights of the child.
As detailed by the NGO, the minors lived in the regions of Kharkiv and Kherson -in the northeast and south of the country- which were occupied by enemy troops at the beginning of the war and were released last fall.
The minors arrived in the territories controlled by Zelensky’s army this Friday after crossing the border on foot and continuing their journey within the country in a bus. The organization specified that “They will be reunited with their families after a long separation of several months”after which they will begin with an arduous psychological and physical recovery. “We will continue to care for them until the families are home”they added.
In addition to celebrating this event, Kuleba took the opportunity to praise all “hero mothers” who traveled to the Russian territories to try to recover their children in what he described as one of the “most difficult” missions of the association.
Even on one of these journeys, an elderly woman who wanted to find two of her grandchildren died due to the stress caused by, among other things, the 13-hour interrogation with Russian secret service agents.
The illegal deportation of Ukrainian minors by the Kremlin is a war crime and has been condemned by the international community. These maneuvers meant that on March 17 the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued a warrant against President Vladimir Putin and his Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova.
The court maintains that they are “allegedly responsible for the war crime” and claims to have “reasonable grounds” to support their accusation.
As a result, both officials were unable to visit or fly over 123 countries that adhere to Rome Statute and therefore, if they appear in their territory, they should move forward with their arrest.
The kyiv authorities reported that since the start of the war in February 2022, more than 16,000 children have been kidnapped by Putin while Moscow denies these accusations and assures that the minors were taken to their lands to be safe from the horrors of war.
On the other hand, Lvova-Belova has recently declared that she is willing to begin the process of reuniting the children with their relatives, but only if this is requested by Ukraine, something that -she maintains- has not happened so far.
However, in practice it has been exposed that Russia does not act in line with this since, once in its territory, the minors are processed new nationality and many of them are even sent with host families.
(With information from AFP and Europa Press)
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