Ukrainian children return from Russia or Europe to family-based care only, says Ukrainian Ombudsman

Dmytro Lubinets
Dmytro Lubinets

After returning from Russia or EU countries, Ukrainian children who do not have parents or if they have been deprived of parental rights, return only to Ukrainian families, Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets said in an interview with Ukrinform on May 4.

Read also: "It will take 55 years" to return Ukrainian children from Russia warns ombudsman

“All children we are returning from territory of Russia, as well as those children who will be returned from European countries to Ukraine, will be returned exclusively to family-based care," Lubinets said.

"And it is already working."

He also noted that there are currently many people willing to take in a child, and that placement of children in specialized institutions should become a thing of the past at this point.

At the same time, children from Ukraine cannot be adopted by Europeans due to restrictions established by international humanitarian law. These rules do not allow foreigners to adopt children from a country that is in the midst of an international military conflict.

Read also: Dozens of Ukrainian children abducted by Russia found in Germany – National Police

“Adoption of Ukrainian children, temporary custody of Ukrainian children should be carried out exclusively on basis of national legislation of Ukraine and exclusively by citizens of Ukraine,” ombudsman added.

Lubinets said that the Russians begun to compile lists of children from temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine to deport them to Russia on May 3.

Abduction of Ukrainian children by Russians

Lubinets said during fourth meeting of Peace Formula advisers in Davos on Jan. 14 that Ukraine returned 517 illegally deported children and 2,828 adults from Russia, including only 150 civilians.

Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly announced that Canada and Ukraine would create a coalition to bring home deported Ukrainian children on Feb. 2. United States officially joined the coalition on March 8, and on April 27, Japan joined.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said that no one can say for sure how many Ukrainians, including children, adult civilians, and military personnel, are being held in Russian captivity on Feb. 26.

In total, according to European Parliament, number of Ukrainian children illegally deported to Russia could reach 300.000. MEPs believe that Russians started taking Ukrainian children back in 2014, after occupation of Crimea and parts of Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts.

Read also:

Russian Ombudsman for Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova said that Ukraine and Russia had agreed to exchange children on April 24. She claimed that representatives of countries had held talks in Doha. Lvova-Belova also claimed to have agreed “that 29 will go to Ukraine and 19 to Russia.” However, Lubinets said that Ukraine does not conduct direct negotiations with Russia on returning of illegally abducted children. According to him, this is done only through mediation of partners.

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