Russia Takes 6,000 Ukrainian Children From Their Homes and Places Them in Camps
A new report from the Conflict Observatory, a US government-backed research group, has revealed that Russia has taken at least 6,000 Ukrainian children from their homes and placed them in 43 camps and other facilities stretching from Ukraine’s Russian-occupied Crimea region to Siberia and Russia’s Pacific coast. The report, which is supported by the State Department’s Humanitarian Research Lab at Yale University, states that the primary purpose of the camps appears to be political re-education.
Children aged four months to 17 years old have been taken to camps where they are subjected to pro-Russian propaganda, military training and in some cases, forcible adoption by Russian families. In many cases, the parents of these children have allegedly been coerced into giving their consent or have been ignored by camp organizers. The report also states that some of the camps have suspended the children’s return to their parents in Ukraine, and some kids have been adopted or placed with foster families in Russia.
The report says that the entire program is being coordinated centrally by the Russian government, involving officials from the federal to local levels. It is believed that the policy is being encouraged by Russian President Vladimir Putin as he signed a decree on May 30 that the researchers interpret to be an effort to expedite the process of adopting Ukrainian children into Russian homes.
Nathaniel Raymond, executive director of Yale University's Humanitarian Research Lab, said that the report should be seen as a “gigantic Amber alert” — in reference to public notices of child abductions — and the most “consequential and comprehensive report” yet published on the matter. The US Department of State said that such illegal transfer and deportation of protected persons is a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the protection of civilians and constitutes a war crime.
Russia’s embassy in Washington, DC, responded to the reports by saying that Russia accepts children who were forced to flee Ukraine and that “we do our best to keep minors in families.” However, Kyiv claims around 14,000 children have been taken from Ukraine to Russia since the start of the war, and Ukrainian officials have accused Russia of systematically “kidnapping” the country's children for months and stripping them of their identities.
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