Two Ukrainian teenage girls were returned to the Ukraine-controlled territory from the Russian-occupied part of Kherson Oblast, Oleksandr Prokudin, the regional governor, said on Feb. 5.
Since February 2022, the Ukrainian government has identified over 19,500 children as abducted from Russian-occupied territories and sent to Russia, Belarus, or other Russian-controlled areas of Ukraine. Only 388 of them have been able to return home.
The girls, aged 15 and 16, were rescued together with their families by Save Ukraine, a Ukrainian humanitarian NGO, according to Prokudin.
“Now both children and adults are safe. They are receiving all the necessary assistance,” Prokudin said on Telegram.
Save Ukraine reported on Feb. 2 that it had rescued four more children from Russian-occupied parts of Kherson and Zaporizhzhia oblasts.
Children from parts of Ukraine that were occupied by Russia during the full-scale invasion have often been separated from their families as a result of hostilities and the inability to safely cross into the Ukraine-controlled territory.
The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) adopted a resolution on Jan. 25 calling on European leaders to make all efforts to return Ukrainian children abducted by Russia home.
In March last year, the International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Russian Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova and Russian dictator Vladimir Putin over their role in the forced deportation of Ukrainian children.