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Poland unveils measures to help bring back Ukrainian children abducted by Russia

31.05.2023 07:00
The Polish government has announced a number of policies to help Ukraine repatriate children that have been forcibly deported to Russia.
Polands Minister for European Affairs, Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk, speaks at a news conference  in Warsaw on Tuesday, May 30, 2023.
Poland's Minister for European Affairs, Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk, speaks at a news conference in Warsaw on Tuesday, May 30, 2023.PAP/Albert Zawada

The measures were unveiled by Poland's Minister for European Affairs Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk and Children’s Ombudsman Mikołaj Pawlak on Tuesday, Polish state news agency PAP reported

Szynkowski vel Sęk told the news conference in Warsaw that “Ukraine has been grappling with the effects of Russia’s full-scale aggression for over a year.”

He said: “The most tragic consequences of this attack, in the human, economic and social sense, are being borne by Ukraine itself and its citizens. Especially tragic are the crimes of genocide being committed by the Russians in the course of military operations and in the occupied territories.”

Szynkowski vel Sęk added: “However, the crimes being perpetrated by the Russian side also include the criminal practice of the deportaton of Ukrainian children to Russia.”

Russia has deported 19,500 Ukrainian children: officials

Some 19,500 Ukrainian children have been abducted by Russia, with the aid of its ally Belarus, and so far only around 370 of them have been brought back, according to the latest estimates, Szynkowski vel Sęk said.

He reflected that “the plight of deported Ukrainian children has special parallels in Polish history.”

He noted that the Polish government earlier this year announced an effort “to help Ukraine repatriate its deported children.” 

In February, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and the head of the European Union’s executive Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, launched an initiative aimed at bringing back Ukrainian children that have been abducted by Russia.

Szynkowski vel Sęk told reporters: “In the past few months, we have worked to offer Ukraine comprehensive support in the repatriation of deported children.”

Digital support, reporting tools, collection of DNA and biometric data     

He said the assistance offered to Kyiv included “digital support in monitoring the identification of deported children and the entities responsible for abducting them; developing tools for the reporting of information about deported children; and assistance with the gathering of DNA and biometric data of the abducted children.” 

Szynkowski vel Sęk also announced that the Polish children’s ombudsman would work closely with his Ukrainian counterpart to help Ukrainian children affected by war. 

Poland's Pawlak was due to take part in an international conference, entitled UA: War. Unsung Lullaby, in the Ukrainian capital Kyiv on Wednesday, according to officials. 

Meanwhile, Pawlak told reporters that at the beginning of Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, Poland launched “a special emergency hotline” in Ukrainian and Russian for the thousands of child refugees from Ukraine that arrived in the country. 

“Ukrainian children are calling this hotline to share their fear of the war, but also their yearning for the homeland,” the Polish children’s ombudsman said.

He added that “to the extent possible, Ukrainian children should be helped in returning home, which requires the reconstruction of Ukraine’s basic infrastructure.”

He noted that “at the moment, many Ukrainian children do not have homes and schools they could return to.”

Pawlak condemned Russia for its abuses of children’s rights in Ukraine and said that he spoke on behalf of his Ukrainian counterpart at international conferences on children’s issues, the PAP news agency reported. 

Wednesday is day 462 of Russia’s war on Ukraine.


Source: PAP, tvpparlament.pl