Six Ukrainian children, who were successfully returned from Russia after the invasion forces deported them from Ukraine, arrived in The Hague.
Five children come from Mariupol and another one – from Kharkiv. These are four boys and two girls, an Ukrinform correspondent reports.
During the press conference, the children told journalists the stories of their return. The Commissioner of the Verkhovna Rada for Human Rights, Dmytro Lubinets, and the Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Children's Rights and Rehabilitation, Daria Herasymchuk, also spoke at the event.
In an exclusive comment to Ukrinform, Lubinets said: "My team was engaged in Veronika’s return. We dealt with this case for more than nine months and even a separate meeting was organized at the level of the UN Security Council, where Veronika's mother spoke, and after that we managed to get a signal from the Russian side that they were ready to hand over the child. For me, this is a manifestation of the fact that, in this case, the international community worked and put enough pressure on Russia. Therefore, I am a supporter of us needing to apply new approaches, new mechanisms of pressure on the Russian Federation. We need to force the Russians to hand over and return all Ukrainian children whom they actually abducted, deported, took away, and separated from their parents."
According to him, it is very important that the children came to The Hague where they can speak up.
"The importance of their arrival here is an indicator that we are ready to show and provide testimony of specific children who were under pressure from Russia. So definitely, their testimonies, their stories should become separate pages in the volumes of criminal cases against Russia, and it was in The Hague, where the meeting with the leadership of the ICC will take place. In my opinion, it was most important not only for the official representatives of Ukraine to come, but also for the children so that they could tell their own stories", Lubinets emphasized.
He also said that international institutions should do everything to help Ukrainian children return home.
"As a state, we remain supporters of the idea that international institutions should do everything to help Ukrainian children because by helping us, Ukraine, our children to return, the world is actually helping itself. We must initiate real mechanisms for the return of our children. Today it is a terrible situation for Ukrainian children, but if there is no reaction tomorrow, children from any country, any nation may find themselves in the same place. We cannot allow the war crimes committed by the Russian Federation against Ukrainian children - deportations, murders, mutilations, crimes of sexual violence committed by the Russian military that continue to be committed – to remain unanswered and unpunished, because impunity breeds chaos," Lubinets said.
He also told Ukrinform that the ICC leadership will be meeting the said group of children tomorrow.
The "Stolen Voices" event is supported by the "Orphans Feeding Foundation" and is organized within the framework of the Bring Kids Back UA action plan approved by the President.
As Ukrinform reported earlier, on September 13, 2023, it became known that three children were returned to the Ukrainian-controlled territory from Russia and temporarily occupied areas.
Also, on September 8, Lubinets said Ukraine had managed to bring back home nine more children.