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Head of Belarus' Red Cross admits to deporting Ukrainian children

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk July 20, 2023 11:54 PM 3 min read
Dzmitryi Shautsou, Head of the Belarusian Red Cross, near the Polish border in 2021 (Photo by Ulf Mauder/picture alliance via Getty Images).
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The head of the Belarusian Red Cross, Dzmitryi Shautsou, has admitted that the organization is involved in deporting children from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine.

“When they accused the Republic of Belarus of kidnapping children who come to us for rehabilitation – frankly speaking, the Belarusian Red Cross has been, and is, and will be actively involved in this,” Shautsou said.

He made the statement while on a televised visit to Russian-occupied Lysychansk in Luhansk Oblast, which was aired on the state channel Belarus-1.

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International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) stated that they learned about the visit through the media, "nor were we involved in any of the activities, including with children."

"It is essential that all components of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement maintain their independence from governments and weapon bearers."

Footage posted on social media on July 13 show Shautsou in Russian-occupied territories wearing a camouflage uniform with a 'Z' symbol on his sleeve.

The IFRC added that "the extraordinary circumstances of this visit, including the use of a symbol associated with one of the parties to the international armed conflict in Ukraine, implicate the Fundamental Principles of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement."

According to the Guardian, Belarusian authorities have confirmed that they are hosting over a thousand children from Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine "for health reasons."

On July 18, the European Parliament called on the ICC to issue an arrest warrant against Belarusian dictator Alexander Lukashenko for his regime's responsibility for the deportation of Ukrainian children.

The Belarusian anti-government organization National Anti-Crisis Management submitted evidence to the ICC on June 27 that Lukashenko and other Belarusian and Russian officials are responsible for the forced deportation of at least 2,100 Ukrainian children to Belarus.

Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba made a similar appeal to the ICC on July 19 to issue a similar arrest warrant for Shautsou.

In March, the ICC issued arrest warrants on for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian official allegedly overseeing the forced deportations of Ukrainian children to Russia.

The Ukrainian Red Cross released a statement on July 19 condemning the "active involvement of the Belarus Red Cross in the deportation of children from Ukrainian territories," and called for the society to be excluded from the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement.

According to the Ukrainian national database, about 19,500 Ukrainian children have been abducted from the occupied territories and sent to other Russian-controlled areas or Russia since last February.

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