HRW: Several Thousand Ukrainian Children ‘Forcibly Relocated to Russia’

Ukrainian children

The Ukraine war has had traumatic and devastating consequences for children in residential institutions, including forcible transfers to Russia and separation from their families.

A new report by Human Rights Watch has found that children have been forcibly transferred to Russia and separated from their families, and have suffered traumatic experiences of war and displacement.

Since Russia invaded Ukraine more than a year ago, thousands of Ukrainian kids have been forcibly sent to Russia. 

The number of children separated from families stands at 16,000, according to the Ukrainian prosecutor’s office.

The impact on institutionalized children points to the urgency of the need to remove them from institutions and provide support for family and community care, Human Rights Watch said. 

Children sent to Russia should urgently be brought home, and Ukraine should urgently map the whereabouts of all children from institutions and ensure their well-being, the organization said. 

The 55-page report, “We Must Provide a Family, Not Rebuild Orphanages,” documents risks to children from institutions in areas directly affected by the conflict as well as those evacuated to other areas of Ukraine or to European countries. 

The prosecutor at the international criminal court will formally open two war crimes cases and issue arrest warrants for several Russians deemed responsible for the mass abduction of Ukrainian children and the targeting of Ukrainian civilian infrastructure.

The prosecutor, Karim Khan, would ask pre-trial judges to approve arrest warrants on the basis of evidence collected so far. If successful, it would be the first time ICC warrants have been issued in relation to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

It is unlikely that the warrants would lead to trials as the ICC would not try the defendants in absentia, and Russia, which is not a member of the ICC, is highly unlikely to hand them over to the court, based in The Hague.

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