At least 385 deported Ukraine children returned from Russia: NGO

According to Kyiv, more than 19,000 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia since the February 2022 invasion, with many allegedly placed in institutions and foster homes.
Volunteers practice during military training for civilians close to Kyiv
Volunteers practice during military training for civilians close to Kyiv

VIENNA: At least 385 Ukrainian children deported to Russia have been returned home, an Austria-based international charity involved in some of the repatriations confirmed Friday.

According to Kyiv, more than 19,000 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia since the February 2022 invasion, with many allegedly placed in institutions and foster homes.

Russia denies the allegations.

"SOS Children's Villages supports the parents, by making financial resources available or by helping them plan the route," charity spokeswoman Anna Radl told AFP on Friday.

"A total of 385 deported children have been returned to Ukraine so far, 84 of them by SOS Children's Villages and its partner organisations," the NGO said in a press release on Thursday.

The total is based on official Ukrainian governmental statistics, Radl said.

"Often it is the children themselves, who seek help for example via social networks, in other cases (their) families, sometimes residents from occupied territories give indications," it added.

SOS Children's Villages says it is one of three players active in the repatriations.

It also trains social workers and psychologists to assist the children and their families after their return.

In March, the International Criminal Court in The Hague announced an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin over the war crime accusation of unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children.

SOS Children's Villages International supports about 2.5 million people, mostly children, in over 130 countries through its centres and programmes, helping orphans and others in need.

Financial flows to its Russian branch have been suspended until further notice, after German media revealed accusations that Moscow had taken in Ukrainian children who had allegedly been deported.

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