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A representative from the Ukrainian NGO Save Ukraine greets 17-year-old Ilona after her return from Russia, where she was illegally deported following the full-scale invasion. (Screenshot / Save Ukraine)
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A 17-year-old girl previously illegally deported to Russia has been returned to her family in Ukraine, the humanitarian NGO Save Ukraine reported on June 9.

At least 19,500 children have been confirmed as abducted by Russia since the start of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and less than 400 of them have returned home, according to the Ukrainian government's database.

Save Ukraine arranged for the rescue of 17-year-old Ilona, saying the process presented difficulties.

"Despite a number of difficult challenges, the Save Ukraine team managed to make every effort, and the abducted girl is finally on her native Ukrainian land," the NGO announced on its Facebook page.

"Ahead of her is a meeting with her mother. We are happy to be involved in this incredible mission."

Ukrainian children who have been forcibly deported to Russia are subject to systemic re-education efforts by Russian authorities, according to a report published in the Guardian on Feb. 4.

In March 2023, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Children’s Rights Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova for allegedly overseeing the forced deportations of Ukrainian children to Russia.

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