Date: February 28, 2024 8:17 pm
The wife of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has urged the international community to do more to ensure the return of Ukrainian children taken to Russia illegally during the current war.
Olena Zelenska said this on Thursday at a two-day international conference in Riga entitled ‘Russia’s War on Children’.
“All countries and all international organisations could help to recover children abducted to Russia. We have to do more,” she said.
According to Daria Herasymchuk, Mr Zelensky’s representative for children’s rights and rehabilitation, Ukraine has identified 20,000 children who were taken to Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories.
They have data on the children, of whom only a few hundred have been returned to date.
Ms Zelensky said Ukraine would fight for each of its stolen children, irrespective of the resources required.
Latvian President Edgars Rinkēvičs accused Russia of destroying the identities of Ukrainian children and causing severe emotional and psychological trauma.
These acts represented a violation of human rights under international law and could be seen as war crimes, he said.
Nine Ukrainian children who had returned to Ukraine from Russia since the start of the war were at the conference, detailing their experiences to the participants.
“I am here today to help bring back all children as soon as possible with my story,” one said.
The International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague has issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and his children’s rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, in connection with the disappearances.