The UN recognizes the deportation of Ukrainian children by Russia as a war crime
Russia’s forcible transfer and deportation of Ukrainian children to territories under its control is a war crime, report says United Nations Commission of Inquiry into Violations in Ukraine.
Cases of displacement of 164 children aged 4 to 18 from the Donetsk, Kharkiv and Kherson regions were considered. The commission found that Russia applies such measures if children:
- lost their parents during the war or temporarily lost contact with them,
- were separated after one of the parents was detained at the filtration point,
- were in special institutions.
International humanitarian law prohibits the evacuation of children by a party to an armed conflict. This is possible only temporarily and for important health reasons, the need to provide children with medical care or to ensure their safety. This requires the written consent of parents or legal guardians.
The UN Commission stresses that in none of the situations considered were the resettlements of children in line with the requirements of international humanitarian law, including safety or medical grounds.
“There is nothing to suggest that the transfer of children to territory controlled by the Ukrainian government is impossible. The Russian authorities do not seem to seek to establish contact with the children’s relatives or with the Ukrainian authorities. While the evictions were meant to be temporary, for a variety of reasons, most of them became long-term, the report highlights. “For this reason, parents or legal guardians faced many obstacles in establishing contacts, reuniting families and returning children to Ukraine.”
Victims told the committee that during their stay in Russia or the occupied territories, in many cases social services informed children that they would be sent to shelters, foster families or adopted. In addition, parents complained that children were forced to wear dirty clothes, called names, poorly fed, and some disabled people did not receive proper care and medicine.
At the same time, in all the cases considered, the responsibility for searching for and finding parents or family members fell on the children themselves. And their return was accompanied by transport and financial difficulties, as well as security problems. In some cases, family reunification lasted for months.
However, according to witnesses, many displaced young children have never been able to contact their parents and may subsequently lose contact with them indefinitely.
According to Kiev, up to 16,221 Ukrainian children were deported to Russia in the year of the war.