Photo, video 19:20 08 Dec 2023

Russia is attempting to sever any connection children have with Ukraine – Zelensky

Фото: Офіс Президента

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky participated in the inaugural meeting of the International Coalition for the Return of Ukrainian Children, unlawfully deported and forcibly displaced to Russia from occupied territories.

Opening the coalition meeting in Kyiv, he expressed gratitude to all indifferent people who joined the International Coalition, the press release says.

"The forced deportation is one of the most cynical crimes of this war. Children are not merely 'taken away' from the occupied territories of Ukraine. Russia deliberately attempts to sever any connection children have with Ukraine, with their relatives, and their loved ones. Children are taught lies about Ukraine and this war. They are placed for illegal adoption, even when they say they have relatives here, in Ukraine, and try to restore contact with their families," Zelensky said.

першій установчій зустрічі Міжнародної коаліції за повернення українських дітей

Photo: President's Office

He added that Russia makes efforts to erase the national identity of young Ukrainians, which is evidence of Russia's genocidal policy towards Ukraine.

"The world knows that this crime committed by Russia against Ukrainian children, against our families, is not something random but an organized effort of the Russian state system – various branches and individuals, from Putin to all those who exercise criminal orders and ruin lives, especially those of children." 

Zelensky added that the ICC warrants to arrest President Vladimir Putin and Russian Children's Ombudsman Maria Lvova-Belova are compelling evidence that the deportation of children will not go unpunished.

першій установчій зустрічі Міжнародної коаліції за повернення українських дітей

Photo: President's Office

At the same time, Zelensky said that time is crucial for returning Ukrainian children. It is important for young Ukrainians not to lose their entire childhood in a foreign land and for the cruelty of Russian state criminals not to break the children and their connection with their country and loved ones.

"Russia itself claims hundreds of thousands of deported Ukrainian children whom it stole from Ukraine and is trying to assimilate into its society. As swift as possible and vigorous efforts are needed to bring all these children back." 

The International Coalition of Countries for the Return of Ukrainian Children was created during a meeting of national security and foreign policy advisors in Malta to implement the Peace Formula. The goal of the coalition's first meeting is to determine practical steps by member states to support Ukraine in its mission to bring deported and forcibly displaced children back home.

It also aims to engage coalition countries in implementing specific projects and commitments to ensure affected children's safe repatriation, rehabilitation, and integration.

According to the document, the parties agree to exert all possible efforts to repatriate children whom Russia illegally deported. The Declaration also commits to supporting the process of reuniting these children with their families and placing them in family environments. Furthermore, the Declaration includes provisions for providing all necessary humanitarian, medical, and psychological assistance to the children and their families who have suffered from illegal deportation.

Additionally, it outlines support for international efforts to hold accountable those responsible for organizing the illegal deportation and displacement of Ukrainian children.


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