Ukrainian children need help from around the world because of aggression by the Russian Federation.
The war unleashed by the Russian Federation against Ukraine which has been characterised by extreme cruelty and the suffering of civilians. To date, more than 77,000 facts of war crimes by the Russian army have been logged in Ukraine. This list includes murder, humiliation, rape, destruction of private property, forced deportation, forced detention of Ukrainians in the occupied territories, pillage on a massive scale, and more. But the worst thing is that among the victims of war in Ukraine are a significant number of children.
Children in Ukraine suffer from constant air-raid and missile attacks, as well as psychological trauma. There have been cases of young children dying of heart attacks due to fear of explosions and air raids. Children’s emotional and physical health is also affected by horrific living conditions – long stays in basements, lack of access to basic amenities, quality water, and food, inability to study in normal conditions, and timely access to qualified medical care.
As of 9 April at least 1,415 children have been injured in the war. According to Ukrainian data, the official number of dead children is 468 and a further 947 minors have been injured with varying degrees of severity. However, these figures are not final as work is still under way to identify victims in places of active hostilities, in the temporarily occupied and liberated territories of Ukraine. The most recent deaths of Ukrainian children took place on 16 April, on one of Ukraine’s main church holidays, Easter. On a festive night, Russian troops using C-300 air defence systems shelled the Snigurivka community in the Mykolaiv region, where two teenagers born in 2005 were killed.
One of the most pressing problems is the deportation of Ukrainian children to Russia. Little Ukrainians are taken away under specious pretexts – recreation, treatment, education, protection from a dangerous war zone, and others. Often, children are separated from their relatives for several months, and then their trail is lost in Russia. There are known cases of names, surnames, and birth dates being changed, as well as rapid and illegal adoption into Russian families. The Ukrainian authorities estimate that more than 738,000 Ukrainian children have been taken to Russia under various pretexts. The Russian occupation authorities have institutionalised the removal of children from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. Moscow has organized a systematic effort to abduct and smuggle young Ukrainian citizens into the Russian Federation, where they are subjected to horrendous psychological and ideological treatment, threats, and overt physical violence.
According to human rights organizations, children taken to Russia are transported from one dubious institution to another and are also deliberately placed in remote regions of Russia with an extremely harsh climate. The main purpose is to confuse the traces of the children’s movement from Ukrainian law enforcement agencies. We are not only talking about orphaned children, including those whose parents have been killed in action but also those who have close relatives in Ukraine. It is through the deportation of children that the Russian authorities are trying to solve the demographic crisis in their country, which came about because of the invasion. Given the high crime rate in Russia, deported Ukrainian children are at risk of human trafficking, slavery, and exposure to involvement in a criminal environment to spread drugs, and more.
In order to help Ukrainian children, the formation of an international coalition to systematically and comprehensively address the deportation problem has become essential. The international community must help in the search for illegally removed children and secure their return to Ukraine.