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Qatar announces return of 6 Ukrainian children from Russia

by Elsa Court and The Kyiv Independent news desk December 5, 2023 6:40 PM 3 min read
Demonstrators bring children's toys to the United Nations office in Brussels to protest Russia's abduction of Ukrainian children, June 2, 2023. (Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
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Following negotiations mediated by Qatar, Russia has allowed six Ukrainian children to return to their families in Ukraine, Qatar's Foreign Ministry announced on Dec. 5.

The return of the children comes as part of Qatar's "ongoing mediation and coordination efforts in reunifying families separated by the conflict," the Foreign Ministry said.

The children are scheduled to leave Moscow on Dec. 5. and travel to Ukraine via Belarus, the Washington Post reported.

The children were reportedly living with relatives in Russia and Russian-occupied territories of Ukraine.

According to the Washington Post, one of the children,  an 11-year-old boy, had been living with relatives in Russian-occupied Donetsk Oblast.

His mother is still held as a prisoner of war in Russia after being captured while serving with the Ukrainian army, an unnamed official told the newspaper.

The boy's father died "around a decade ago, and he will now stay with a maternal aunt."

Ukraine’s fight to heal millions of children scarred by Russia’s war
Editor’s note: The children’s full names are not revealed in this story to protect their identity. The location of the camp they attend is also not revealed for security reasons. Western Ukraine — At the Gen.Camp tucked away in western Ukraine, children spend much of their day throwing

Qatar's International Cooperation Minister Lolwah Al-Khater said that the exchange was "building on the momentum of recent weeks."

"Today's announcement marks another small yet significant step forward in this collaborative process," she said.

Qatar cooperated with Ukraine to help bring back Bohdan Yermokhin on Nov. 19, a Ukrainian teenager who was illegally deported by Russia from occupied Mariupol.

Yermokhin had been placed with a foster family in Moscow Oblast and served with a conscription notice.

In October, Qatar brokered a deal with Moscow and Kyiv to bring back four children to Ukraine. The deal was orchestrated after months of high-level talks involving Moscow and Kyiv.

The Ukrainian government has identified over 19,500 children who have been deported or forcibly displaced by Russia, less than 400 of whom have been returned to Ukraine.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued arrest warrants for Maria Lvova-Belova and Russian President Vladimir Putin in March 2023 over their role in the forced deportation of Ukrainian children.

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In the early days of the full-scale invasion as Russian troops were occupying large swaths of territory outside of Kyiv, one local village resident was relieved to see what he thought were Ukrainian troops. The resident, Ivan Drozd, shouted the common Ukrainian salute “Slava Ukraini!” (Glory to Uk…
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