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Official: Ukraine creating international coalition to return orphans illegally deported by Russia

by The Kyiv Independent news desk April 10, 2023 1:05 PM 2 min read
Iryna Vereshchuk, Ukraine's Deputy Prime Minister and head of the Ministry of Reintegration. (Reintegration Ministry via Facebook)
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The Ukrainian government is creating an international coalition for the return of Ukrainian orphans forcibly moved by Russia, Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk told the parliamentary TV channel Rada.

The coalition will also aim "to punish those guilty of crimes against Ukrainian children," according to Vereshchuk, cited by Ukraine's Reintegration Ministry.

Among the international leaders who have already expressed their support of such a coalition are European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, the Ukrainian official said.

The coalition will also need an intermediary, according to Vereshchuk. "It can be anyone: International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN International Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF), etc."

"In this case, the help of the world community is critical to us… I hope that such a platform will start operating soon," she added.

According to the deputy prime minister, 4,396 Ukrainian orphans are now illegally kept in the occupied territories or were forcibly taken to Russia.

A total of over 19,000 children have been abducted to Russia since Moscow’s all-out invasion on Feb. 24, 2022, according to a Ukrainian national database.

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.

Official: Kidnapped Ukrainian children punished for refusing to sing Russian national anthem
Daria Herasymchuk, Ukrainian presidential advisor for children’s rights, said on April 9 that after returning to Ukraine from Russia, children complain of beatings and other punishments for refusing to sing the Russian anthem and for mentioning that they are Ukrainians.
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