President of Ukraine

Olena Zelenska: Together we must find justice and a path to home and safety for our children

7 December 2023 - 20:16

Olena Zelenska: Together we must find justice and a path to home and safety for our children

First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska met with Baroness Helena Kennedy, a British human rights activist who arrived in Kyiv. Helena Kennedy is the chair of Justice, an organization for human rights and legal reform. It is the British section of the International Commission of Jurists, a human rights organization that promotes human rights around the world.

Since the Russian invasion, Justice and its leader have been working to provide legal assistance to Ukraine in restoring justice for victims of Russian war crimes, including cases of children abducted by Russia.

The President's wife thanked the guest for her work and visit and emphasized that a number of important events would take place in Ukraine these days to return deported Ukrainian children.

"We believe that uniting the international community to broadly highlight this issue, coordinate the efforts of international partners and bring those responsible to justice will contribute to progress in the return of our children. As you know, the release of all prisoners and the return of deportees is a separate point of President Zelenskyy's Peace Formula," the First Lady said.

She noted the importance of creating an International Coalition of Countries for the Return of Ukrainian Children and called it an important and timely step.

This coalition was initiated during a meeting of national security advisors and diplomatic advisors in Malta on October 28-29. In total, the meeting was attended by representatives of 66 countries and international organizations. This idea was supported by many states participating in the event.

This initiative will be a continuation of the President's Bring Kids Back UA plan and will facilitate the return of young Ukrainian citizens deported or forcibly displaced by Russia from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.

The President's wife spoke about other threats to Ukrainian children due to the Russian invasion.

"At least 13 children - 12 girls and 1 boy - became victims of sexual violence by the Russian occupiers. The youngest victim was only 4 years old at the time of the crime. Only 13 cases of sexual violence by ruscists are currently being officially investigated by prosecutors, because only these victims or their families have found the strength to speak out. War wounds not only with bullets. Many Ukrainian children are forced to seek refuge abroad. Our children are deprived of full access to the educational process. Studying in a school shelter or online, without access to school, has become commonplace. This is a loss of childhood, sometimes a lifelong psychological trauma," she said.

Olena Zelenska and Baroness Helena Kennedy discussed the next steps in cooperation to save Ukrainian children. In particular:

  • Developing effective mechanisms for the return of deported children to Ukraine and involving new participants in this process;
  • Effective approaches to the reintegration of children upon return;
  • Increasing international pressure on the Russian Federation, keeping the issue of deported Ukrainian children on the agenda of international organizations in order to return every Ukrainian child home, and bringing to justice the organizers of the crime of deportation.

"Dear Baroness, your experience and international authority are very important to us. I count on your friendly assistance and leadership in our common noble endeavors. After all, children unite all people, the whole world. Together we must find justice and a path to home and safety," Olena Zelenska said.