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Governor: 24 kidnapped children from Kherson Oblast returned to Ukraine
Twenty-four Ukrainian children from Kherson Oblast who had been illegally deported by Russia returned home on April 10, Governor Oleksandr Prokudin reported.
The rescue mission was organized by the NGO Save Ukraine, which “made incredible efforts so that the young residents of the region could finally see and hug their relatives,” wrote Prokudin.
According to the NGO volunteers, Russian forces interrogated the children “for 13 hours” during the mission and later forced them to participate in a propaganda report.
The city of Kherson and other settlements in the region on the Dnipro River's west bank were liberated by Ukrainian forces in November 2022 after eight months of Russian occupation.
Over 19,000 children were abducted by Russia, according to a Ukrainian national database, while thousands remain not accounted for. Ukraine has so far managed to return over 350 Ukrainian children deported by Russia, and the process is ongoing.
On March 17, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Russian dictator Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, the Russian official allegedly overseeing the forced deportations of Ukrainian children to Russia.
In previous interviews, children described being used as political props at rallies and difficult conditions in the places they were being kept.
Save Ukraine has helped people fleeing war zones since 2014. Over the past year, it launched a program to return taken children back to Ukraine. Over the past year, the NGO said it rescued 95 children.