Ukraine: Thermite munitions rain on town of Vuhledar
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Since the beginning of the Ukraine war, more than 16,000 children have been deported to Russia, according to the Ukrainian government, in what has been described as an “egregious crime”. Although thousands of children were taken from orphanages, an ombudswoman for abducted children has given insight into the various sinister “scenarios” in which Ukrainian children have been taken to Russia.
According to the Ukrainian government, a staggering total of 16,226 children have been deported to Russia. The whereabouts of the majority of them — a number that totals 10,513 — have been established, but only 308 have returned.
Last year, it emerged that Ukrainian children aged between four months and 17 years old were being taken from orphanages in the Donbas, Mariupol, and Kherson.
However, not all the children taken are orphans. Some have been taken to “re-education” institutions from their schools, with parents reporting that they have been essentially coerced into agreeing to let their children go.
Some parents, government ombudswoman Daria Gerasimchuk claims, have been killed.
Speaking from Kherson, which was liberated in November after being occupied a month into the war, Ms Gerasimchuk told the Observer: “They kill the parents, for whatever reason, and kidnap the child. In other cases, they just grab the child directly from the family, perhaps to punish that family.”
The children are either forcibly adopted by Russian families or sent to summer camps where they are re-educated in the hope of turning them into Russian citizens, reports claim.
Others have been given military training. Russia’s goal appears to be to absolve any childhood attachment with Ukraine, so as to undermine the existence of Ukraine.
Ms Gerasimchuk said: “Others go through the appallingly named ‘filtration camps’ — collected, indoctrinated and prepared for ‘adoption’ of the kind that commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova has herself boasted.”
This weekend, an arrest warrant was issued by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for Putin as well as his commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova.
The court, which is based in the Hague, claims the Russian President and Lvova-Belova have committed war crimes, including that children have been unlawfully deported from Ukraine to Russia, allegations Moscow has dismissed as “outrageous”.
Lvova-Belova has spoken openly about her attempts to indoctrinate Ukrainian children, herself claiming to have adopted a 15-year-old boy from Mariupol, the city in the Donetsk Oblast Putin paid a surprise visit to this weekend.
Describing herself as the “saviour” of Ukrainian children, Lvova-Belova told a Tass press conference: “Unfortunately, we see that these children were brought up in a completely different culture and they did not watch the same films our children watched, they did not study history as our children did.”
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But European governments and a study by Yale Humanitarian Research, funded by the US state department, tell a very different story. Rather than being saved, these children are being “held hostage”.
The report called for Russia to stop the adoption of Ukrainian children immediately and demanded that a neutral body be given access to the camps.
Although it is unlikely that much will come of the ICC issuing an arrest warrant — a move US President Joe Biden described as “justified” — it is hoped that it will prevent further crimes from being committed.
Karim Khan, an ICC prosecutor, told the BBC: “Children can’t be treated as the spoils of war, they can’t be deported. This type of crime doesn’t need one to be a lawyer, one needs to be a human being to know how egregious it is.”
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