September 8, 2023

Representatives of the President's Office told German parliamentarians about Ukrainian children abducted by Russia in the framework of the Bring Kids Back UA project presentation

Advisor – President's Commissioner for Children's Rights and Children's Rehabilitation Daria Herasymchuk and Advisor to the Head of the Presidential Office Daria Zarivna took part in a panel discussion in the Bundestag on deepening cooperation between Ukraine and Germany to bring home Ukrainian children abducted by Russia.

The event was organized by a group of German MPs, namely: Robin Wagener, Markus Faber, Michael Roth, Roderich Kiesewetter, Yvonne Magwas, Knut Abraham, Erik von Malottki, Frank Schwabe, Johann David Wadephul with the support of the Embassy of Ukraine in Germany and the German-Ukrainian Parliamentary Group and thanks to the idea of Ukrainian scholarship holders of the International Parliamentary Scholarship program Khrystyna Danyuk, Yana Melnychenko and Ulyana Hnatyshyn.

A special participant of the event was 11-year-old Ilya from Mariupol, whose mother was killed by the Russian military in front of him. The boy himself was forcibly deported from Ukraine. Ilya's trip to Berlin was part of the Stolen Voices information campaign, a component of the Bring Kids Back UA plan approved by President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy.

"Today, here, in the Bundestag, the voice of not only Ilya is heard, but also the voices of all Ukrainian children abducted by Russia," emphasized Daria Herasymchuk.

She noted that as of September 1, 2023, according to Russian media, citing the occupying country's defense departments, more than 744,000 Ukrainian children had been illegally taken to Russia.

Currently, at least 20 thousand cases of illegal deportation of Ukrainian children by Russia have been officially documented. But the real numbers may be several times higher, emphasized Daria Herasymchuk.

"This is a huge scale of crime. Russia does not provide any state or organization with information about their whereabouts, health status or any circumstances," said Daria Zarivna, Advisor to the Head of the Presidential Office, COO of Bring Kids Back UA.

So far, only 386 young Ukrainians have been returned to their homeland.

"This brutality cannot go unpunished, and we are grateful to the international community for recognizing this. The arrest warrant issued by the International Criminal Court for Vladimir Putin and the so-called ombudsman Lvova-Belova is a good sign. However, we need more than just signals. We need real action. For this purpose, President Volodymyr Zelenskyy initiated the Bring Kids Back UA project. This is a strategic action plan that meets the fourth point of the Peace Formula "Release of all prisoners and deportees"," said the Advisor to the Head of the Presidential Office.

"To stop the wave of crimes against our children, we need to make joint international efforts. We really need your help. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your leadership once again," she added.

The panel discussion brought together experts and opinion leaders from political and civil society in Ukraine and Germany to raise awareness of Russia's violations of children's rights and to find ways to cooperate in the repatriation of abducted young Ukrainian citizens.