6,000 Ukrainian children being held in Russia for ‘political re-education’: Report

Ukrainian government and U.N. senior human rights officials have consistently raised the alarm over these activities

Himalaya Times
Read Time = 2 mins

The Russian government is operating a systematic network of at least 40 child custody centers for thousands of Ukrainian children, a potential war crime, according to a new US backed report by Yale University researchers.

"Russia's Systematic Program for the Re-Education and Adoption of Ukrainian Children," describes a system of holding facilities that stretch from the Black Sea coast to Siberia.

Nathaniel Raymond, executive director of the Yale Humanitarian Research Lab said "It is a massive logistical undertaking that does not happen by accident."

More than 6,000 children from Ukraine ages four months to 17 years have been held at camps and other facilities since the full-scale invasion of Ukraine on 24 February 2022. Arrivals to these facilities began in February 2022 and the most recent transfers occurred in January 2023.

The network spans at least 43 facilities identified by Yale HRL. The exact number of facilities is likely significantly higher than the 43 identified, according to the report.

Network of the children’s facilities stretches from Russia-occupied Crimea to Russia’s eastern coast. The furthest camp this investigation identifies is in Magadan oblast in Russia’s Far East near the Pacific Ocean, approximately 3,900 miles from Ukraine’s border with the Russia.

The Primary purpose of these facilities is political re-education, says the report, at least 32 of the camps identified appear to be engaged in a systematic re-education efforts that integrates children from Ukraine into the Russian government’s vision of national culture, history, and society.

At two camps, Artek and Medvezhonok, children’s returns were suspended indefinitely, according to parents. Parents also described being unable to get information about their child’s status or whereabouts after their return has been suspended.

The report points out that All levels of Russia’s government are involved in this operation, centrally coordinated by Russia’s federal government.

Russian officials do not deny about the Ukrainian children that are now in Russia, but insist the camps are part of a vast humanitarian project for abandoned, war-traumatized orphans. Russia does not, however, acknowledge how many children are in Russia or where they are housed.

The Ukrainian government and U.N. senior human rights officials have consistently raised the alarm over these activities since the early days of the war.

The alarm grew louder in May 2022, when Russian President Vladimir Putin issued a new decree that made it quick and easy to adopt Ukrainian children, which was next to impossible before the war. In addition, Russian officials announced it would extend government support to Russian families who adopt Ukrainian children.

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