Photos 20:19 05 Jun 2023

Ukraine's ombudsman appeals to Vatican for assistance in releasing 27,000 Ukrainian hostages from Russia

Photo: Dmytro Lubinets/ Facebook

The Ukrainian parliament Commissioner for Human Rights, Dmytro Lubinets, called on Cardinal Matteo Maria Zuppi, Archbishop of Bologna and President of the Italian Bishops' Conference, to facilitate the return of civilian hostages, including priests held by Russia, to Ukraine.

This was discussed at the meeting held on Monday in Kyiv.

Photo: Dmytro Lubinets, Facebook

Pope Francis' envoy for peace in Ukraine, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, is visiting Kyiv on June 5-6. The primary objective is to heed the counsel of Ukrainian authorities regarding viable solutions to secure a fair and equitable peace and to promote initiatives of humanity that will facilitate the deescalation of tensions.

At the meeting, Lubinets emphasized:

"The Russian Federation detains civilians en masse. The approximate figure we are now calling is 27,000 citizens of Ukraine. But it is impossible to establish exactly. This includes priests from different denominations. Separately, I would like to draw your attention to the fact that two priests of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic churches were detained in the temporarily occupied territory and are in captivity of the Russian Federation. Likewise, we ask you to do everything possible to save them."

According to him, the priests are in the colony.

"The Russian Federation continues to suppress the rights of believers in the temporarily occupied territories. Three hundred five religious buildings were directly destroyed," added the ombudsman.

The representative of the Vatican, Cardinal Matteo Zuppi, assured of support for Ukraine and emphasized that the war is a step backward, destroying everything and from which children suffer.

Photo: Dmytro Lubinets, Facebook

"It is unacceptable that the violence of this war touched children. Speaking about Ukraine, Pope Francis used a very beautiful expression: "Your tears are my tears; your pain is my pain." And today, I say that your children are our children. I can talk about this because many children came to Italy… it was very nice to see the hospitality with which the Italians received Ukrainian children," he said.

The cardinal spoke about how Italian and Ukrainian children in schools quickly found a common language and became friends.

"Of course, the church will do everything possible to protect the lives of children," Zuppi assured.

For his part, Lubinets told him that our country was able to return 371 children from those illegally deported by the Russian Federation from Ukraine during the war.

воєнні злочини проти дітей

Photo: Dmytro Lubinets, Facebook

"The return of each child is like a small special operation. When you know the Russian Federation will never support and help you; we must do everything to return Ukrainian children. So far, we have managed to return 371 children. Perhaps with your participation, it will be possible to change this figure radically," Lubinets said.

He emphasized that Ukraine is grateful to those ready to help it in this matter.

The parties also discussed the issue of prisoner-of-war exchanges and the deportation of Ukrainian children.

For reference:

It should be noted that Lubinets previously reported that, according to the data of the Unified Register, approximately 24,000 Ukrainians are considered missing.

The ombudsman also said that 86% of Ukrainian soldiers who managed to return from Russian captivity reported that they had been subjected to direct physical torture by the Russians.


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