According to Ukrainian Government data, as of 19th of March 367 Ukrainian children were injured and 205 fell victim to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
As this aggression goes on, Russia keeps violating the fundamental rights of children to life and security. By shelling and bombing civilian infrastructure, Russians kill parents and kidnap children on the territories in Ukraine which they have invaded and temporarily occupy.
Some sources claim that more than 121 000 children have been forcibly exiled to Russia (https://www.ukrinform.ua/rubric-ato/3452787-denisova-zaklikae-miznarodni-institucii-vtrutitis-u-situaciu -iz-nezakonnim- vivezennam-ditej-u-rf.html). These include both orphans and children that have parents. in an act of modern slavery Russia kidnaps Ukrainian children and deports them against their will to the Vladimirskaya, Omskaya, Tcheliabinskaya oblasts of Russia and the eastern island of Sakhalin. Some of the children were relocated from Mariupol to Donetsk (temporarily occupied by Russia) and then further to Taganrog in Russia. Russia tries to justify the illegal displacement of children by ‘taking care’ of orphans. But, all of them along with the residential child care communities were evacuated from Mariupol on 24th-25th February.
The Kremlin opts for the well-known scenario of 2014 yet again, when Russians forcibly relocated hundreds of children from Crimea to Russia by the so-called “Train of Hope” for their further adoption. Russia was removed from the European network of children’s ombudspersons for doing that.
Currently, upon the initiation of Putin, the State Duma of Russia works on legislative amendments making the process of adoption easier. This indicates that they are planning to adopt the little Ukrainians without any “superfluous” checkups and statutory provisions in order to conceal the location and information on the illegally displaced children. If those amendments are passed, it will be nearly impossible to change the family status and bring the children back to Ukraine.
It is moreover a fragrant violation of the Ukrainian laws that regulate the special procedure of adopting Ukrainian children by foreigners. This is supervised by the National Social Service of Ukraine. By doing so, the Kremlin violates Articles 7 and 21 of the Convention on the Right of the Child (UN) and Article 49 of the Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilians in Armed Conflicts. The latter forbids a forcible displacement of an individual or a group of civilians.
Disgracefully the Russian Army use these children as the “human shield” against the Armed Forces of Ukraine. On 11th of April in Volnovakha, the Russian invaders forced students to get back to their studying in the local school despite the close proximity to the battlefield. According to international humanitarian law, children must be carefully protected during armed conflicts.
The Centre for Countering Disinformation of Ukraine has confirmed that Russia makes use of the displaced Ukrainian children for propaganda purposes. The Kremlin’s mass media spread interviews with deported Ukrainian kids, whom propagandists call “spies” operating against Russian military. For instance, these pseudo-journalists distribute misinformation with headlines like “The Ukrainian regime sends children to war, taking in from the Third Reich”. Putin’s propaganda uses the alleged interviews with the Ukrainian children and claims that “exactly these children had been spying since the very beginning of the special operation in Ukraine”. Using children in its information warfare is yet another flagrant violation of International Law committed by Russia.
We understand that the Kremlin plans to initiate institutional camps for displaced Ukrainian children for studying the Russian language. These will be created for the children that don’t have a good command of Russian and are not able to study in Russian schools.
It has been alleged that the objectives of the illegal displacement of the Ukrainian children are:
- Russia is gathering the future human resources for its law enforcement.
- Russia is trying to solve its own demographic issue.
- Russia is creating a group of ideologically brainwashed Ukrainians that may be involved in establishing the occupation authorities on the occupied territories of Ukraine.
This could be qualified as kidnapping and requires an immediate and forceful response from the international community. In this regard, Ukraine has called on the UN Committee on the Right of Child, the UN Committee on the Right of Human, and the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions to take all the necessary measures to prevent the further illegal displacement of Ukrainian children to Russia and assist in returning those already displaced back to the safe regions of Ukraine.