Head of the Office of the President Andriy Yermak held a meeting of the Coordination Council of Ukraine for the Protection and Safety of Children in the format of a video conference, which was held with the participation of UN Secretary-General António Guterres, representatives of the United Nations Organization, ambassadors of the G20 countries, and children's ombudsmen. In total, more than 100 people participated in the event.
Andriy Yermak emphasized that the meeting should contribute to the fastest possible cessation of mass crimes committed by the Russian Federation against hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian children.
"Our goal is to stop the forcible transfer or deportation of children from Ukraine to the Russian Federation and to take all necessary measures for their safe return and family reunification in accordance with the interests of the child and international law," said the Head of the Office of the President.
Andriy Yermak thanked António Guterres for the fact that, despite participating in the G20 leaders' summit, he found time to personally join the meeting to resolve this important issue.
For his part, the UN Secretary-General emphasized that children should be with their families and those who love and care about them, and called for action in the interests of children.
"We know about children who were taken to Russian territory. These cases should be thoroughly investigated. It is impossible to agree to the simplification of the procedure for obtaining citizenship, which leads to the simplification of the adoption of children by Russian families. We must demand access to Ukrainian children who are on the territory of the Russian Federation," he emphasized.
António Guterres said that children's interests would be best served by returning them to their families, and UNICEF and the High Commissioner for Human Rights would use all means to work in this direction.
The Head of the President's Office reminded that international humanitarian law classifies the mass forced deportation of children during the conflict as a war crime, and called on those present to actively tell the world about young Ukrainians and Russia's crimes against them, to take measures to prevent new crimes. He also thanked the ambassadors of Ukraine and partner countries, children's ombudsmen who participated in the event.
"We really need your help. I am sure: everyone who has gathered here has a big heart. And together we will do everything possible and impossible to save our children," added Andriy Yermak.
He said that following the meeting, each of its participants will receive recommendations and information materials that they can distribute among the world community, and the high-ranking ambassadors will be able to hand them over to the heads of their states.
"This is very important on the eve of the summit, which I have already mentioned," the Head of the President's Office emphasized.
During the meeting, joint actions were discussed, which can help in stopping the crimes of the Russian Federation against minor Ukrainian citizens. In particular, it can be assistance in establishing the whereabouts of children using the mechanism of involving a third country, since Ukraine's diplomatic relations with Russia are severed. It is also important to spread the appeal to the Russian Federation to immediately abolish the simplified procedure for obtaining Russian citizenship for Ukrainian orphans and children left without parental care. The Russian Federation must also provide the UN bodies and international organizations with complete information about Ukrainian children forcibly removed or deported to Russia. In addition, it was proposed to consider the possibility of involving the International Committee of the Red Cross for the return of deported minor citizens of Ukraine and to identify UN structures that can participate in this process.
Daria Herasymchuk, Adviser-Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Children's Rights and Child Rehabilitation, noted that as of November 14, according to the "Children of War" state portal, 10,764 children were deported to Russia from Ukraine.
"We call on you to help us save our Ukrainian children and stop the genocide of the Ukrainian people. After all, today it is a Ukrainian child, and tomorrow, unfortunately, it can be a child of any other nationality," she said.
Dmytro Lubinets, Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights, emphasized that the Russian authorities openly give orders for the forced deportation of Ukrainian children and in every possible way facilitate their adoption by Russians.