On 8 April 2023, Ukraine returned 31 children who were forcibly deported to Russia from the occupied territories of Ukraine, according to Mykola Kuleba, head of the Save Ukraine non-profit organization.
Initially, Save Ukraine planned to organize the return of 33 children, but an elderly woman who was supposed to accompany two of the kids on the way from Russia to Ukraine died shortly before the planned trip, according to Mykola Kuleba. Thus, those children stayed in Russia.
According to Ukraine’s national database that tracks Ukrainian children forcibly deported to Russia, more than 19,000 kids have been abducted by Russian authorities. The number may be even higher as thousands of abducted kids remain unaccounted for.
Russia may have already deported between 260,000 and 700,000 minors from Ukraine. Although some responsible parties have already faced EU restrictions for the deportation of Ukrainian children, there is a continued need for further measures to be taken to prevent forced deportations of Ukrainian children to Russia and to ensure the safe and prompt return of those who have already been deported.
On 17 March 2023, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russia’s President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights in Russia, who allegedly oversaw the abduction and forced deportations of Ukrainian children from occupied territories to Russia. Ukraine takes measures to identify, track down and repatriate abducted kids.