President of Ukraine

Olena Zelenska during a visit to Latvia: Together with the world, we will look for new ways to save Ukrainian children

31 January 2024 - 19:39

Olena Zelenska during a visit to Latvia: Together with the world, we will look for new ways to save Ukrainian children

First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska arrived in Latvia to participate in an international conference on the return of deported Ukrainian children.

"Russia's War on Children" conference will be held in Riga on February 1. It will be attended by politicians and human rights activists from different countries. Ukraine counts on an active position of the international community and effective international support, and expects additional proposals and expansion of the circle of partners who will work on the issue of returning Ukrainian children.

During the visit, Olena Zelenska met with President of the Republic of Latvia Edgars Rinkēvičs.

"I thank you and the entire Latvian people for supporting Ukraine and for the significant contribution to countering the full-scale Russian invasion," she said.

The First Lady of Ukraine also thanked Latvia for providing humanitarian aid to both Ukraine and its citizens: "It is with special gratitude that I would like to note that Latvia has already accepted more than 58 thousand citizens of our country who were forced to flee their homeland in search of refuge from the war. Among them are more than 20 thousand children under the age of 18. Today, more than a thousand Ukrainian students and almost three thousand schoolchildren are studying in Latvia. In this context, I would like to thank you for the opportunity for Ukrainian children to study in Latvian educational institutions having the same rights as Latvians."

The First Lady emphasized that Ukraine also greatly appreciates Latvia's assistance in the treatment and rehabilitation of Ukrainian servicemen. More than 270 servicemen have already received such assistance (a new group of 25 arrived on January 25).

Latvia is also actively involved in Ukraine's recovery and reconstruction projects in Chernihiv region. Last year, we managed to install 12 modular buildings, purchase equipment for Chernihiv educational institutions, diesel generators for the regional center, and reconstruct five educational and medical institutions in the region.

"We appreciate Latvia's active support of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's Ukrainian Peace Formula, in particular such points as Food Security, Release of all Prisoners and Deportees, Restoration of Justice, and Preventing Escalation. I would also like to thank Latvia for its decision to hold an international conference on the topic of Ukrainian children abducted by Russia. Unfortunately, the topic of the conference remains extremely relevant. Despite the extraordinary efforts of those who have been rescuing little Ukrainians from Russian captivity for the past two years, only 388 of them have been returned to their homeland. Together with the world, we must look for new ways to do this," Olena Zelenska said.

The President's wife also met with Prime Minister of Latvia Evika Siliņa. She thanked the Latvian Prime Minister for her personal involvement in organizing the treatment of Ukrainian children and meeting with those who come to Latvia to receive medical care.

"We are grateful that since the first days of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, Latvia has been providing medical support to Ukrainian children to improve their physical and mental health," the First Lady said.

In addition, Olena Zelenska, together with Latvian Foreign Minister Krišjānis Kariņš, met with representatives of the Latvian and Ukrainian communities. The meeting was attended by representatives of more than 90 public and governmental organizations that have joined in helping Ukraine during the Russian aggression.

"Your whole country, all its humanity and care seem to be embodied in this hall now. And there are so many organizations and unions that were founded in 2022. This proves your help and compassion better than any words. I want to say words of gratitude to your entire country and to each of you," Olena Zelenska emphasized in her address to the audience.

The President's wife also addressed the Ukrainian community.

"Entrepreneurs, teachers, scientists, artists from our diaspora, people of different professions who are united by their homeland in their hearts. I want to thank all of them for helping their fellow countrymen in Ukraine and here. The country is waiting for everyone who left home because of the war to come back, so that you have a place to return to, so that you have opportunities, confidence and a full life," the First Lady said.

She emphasized the importance of the international conference on Ukrainian children deported to Russia: "I will ask the whole world to act faster. Even a day in captivity is too much for a child. Not to mention years. And I will ask you to speak up. We cannot live as if nothing is happening when children taken from their homes by force are suffering somewhere. Because this affects childhood and the future not only of ours but of the whole world."