The Uncertain Fate of Ukrainian Children Deported to Russia: The Story of the Stolen Generation

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Russia’s forced deportation and naturalization of Ukrainian children has been labeled a war crime by UN researchers. According to reports, children in institutional care are being deported under the pretext of evacuation, while others are being separated from their families in filtration camps. Some families are sending their children to camps in occupied territories to take refuge from war. Communication is cut off between them, and they disappear. The forced deportation and naturalization of Ukrainian children by Russia has been described as a war crime. These actions have resulted in the International Criminal Court ruling arrest warrants against President Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, Commissioner for the Rights of the Child of Russia. Artificial intelligence is being employed to find the children and the facilities in which they are being held. Hotlines link complaints to the police, and relatives cross into Russia to physically bring them home. However, most of the children end up in “re-education camps,” are illegally adopted by Russian families, or are lost. Russia presents the adoptions as acts of benevolence and disseminates videos of Ukrainian children in re-education camps through social media. They claim that they are saving them and giving them a life in Russia. Plans to turn the Ukrainian children into Russians began appearing in 2014, after the Russian annexation of the Crimean peninsula, a measure considered illegal by the international community. Last spring, the country relaxed its adoption and citizenship rules to make it easier for Russian citizens to adopt Ukrainian children without parental care and grant them citizenship. This signals a possible acceleration of its policy. The effects could be permanent, as it is a way of stealing a generation.

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