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Schuman RoundaboutMembers from a U.S.-based nonprofit organization, Avaaz, light candels and lay toys on the ground in the , the center of the EU district in Brussels, Belgium, in protest against the Russian abduction of Ukrainian children on Feb. 24, 2023. (Thierry Monasse/Getty Images)
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Save Ukraine, a Ukrainian humanitarian NGO, rescued six children and their families from Russian occupation, the organization's founder, Mykola Kuleba, said on June 3.

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

Kuleba did not specify which Russian-held Ukrainian territories the children were brought back from.

Three families escaped from Russian-occupied territories with the help of Save Ukraine. Three out of the six rescued children are half-orphans.

"The father of a big family was killed in front of his three children by a Russian shell that hit the family's yard. The children still do not believe their father is gone," Kuleba said.

The father of another family was beaten and tortured by Russian soldiers, the Save Ukraine founder added.

Russian soldiers threatened the children with relocation to an orphanage and with military service or the killing of their parents.

Kuleba said that the families found Save Ukraine's contacts and asked for help. The rescue operation was carried out in cooperation with the Humanity Foundation and other Save Ukraine's partners, according to Kuleba.

In late May, 13 children who were illegally kept in Russia were brought back to Ukraine with the help of Qatar as a mediator.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova and Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 17, 2023, over the deportation of Ukrainian children.

The 123 member states of the ICC are required to arrest Putin if he steps foot on their territory.

Russia abducted 46 children from foster home in then-occupied Kherson in 2022, NYT reports
All children were transported to the city of Simferopol in Russian-occupied Crimea by Russian authorities connected to the ruling Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party.

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