President of Ukraine

Ukraine and Canada Held a Plenary Meeting of the International Coalition for the Return of Ukrainian Children Involving 35 Countries Already

11 April 2024 - 20:30

Ukraine and Canada Held a Plenary Meeting of the International Coalition for the Return of Ukrainian Children Involving 35 Countries Already

The second plenary session of the International Coalition for the Return of Ukrainian Children was co-chaired by Ukraine and Canada. Specific projects were presented to engage coalition member countries in the work on the return and reintegration of Ukrainian children abducted by Russia.

Opening the event, Kati Csaba, Executive Director of the Ukraine Bureau at Global Affairs Canada, emphasized: "The scope of the coalition's activities is expanding, and the number of countries involved continues to grow. Today's meeting aims to provide our partners with clear and detailed information on Ukraine's efforts to return abducted children and how coalition members can support these efforts."

During the meeting, Ukraine presented specific projects and ways to engage countries in active work on the return of children illegally deported and forcibly displaced by Russia. The proposed initiatives cover the following areas: identifying the whereabouts of abducted Ukrainian children, developing mechanisms for their return, participating in diplomatic negotiations, supporting children after their return and ensuring their rehabilitation, bringing perpetrators to justice, and conducting joint information campaigns.

The Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights, Dmytro Lubinets, also emphasized the importance of joint meetings of the coalition members.

"Today, at the coalition meeting, projects were presented that will facilitate the return and reintegration of Ukrainian children. I am pleased to welcome the readiness of the coalition members to support the implementation of the projects proposed by Ukraine in the near future," he said.

Representative of the Commissioner for Children's Rights Iryna Suslova presented a project aimed at the safe return of children deported or forcibly displaced by Russia: "The most important task today is the physical return of Ukrainian children home. It is important to act quickly, because the identity of minors is being destroyed under the pressure of Russian propaganda."

Iryna Tuliakova, Head of the Coordination Center for the Development of Family Upbringing and Child Care, presented a project to reintegrate children, provide them with the necessary rehabilitation assistance, and place them in family-based forms of upbringing.

"Ukraine's strategic priority is to create conditions for all children to grow up in a family environment. To realize this goal, we need to support and enhance the capacity of families who take in children, including those who have been returned from deportation. It is also important to educate and prepare new families, improve their living conditions, and provide financial and psychosocial support," emphasized Iryna Suslova.

Yulia Usenko, Head of the Department for Protection of Children's Interests and Combating Domestic Violence of the Prosecutor General's Office, invited the coalition member states to cooperate with Ukraine to bring to justice the criminals who planned, organized and implemented the policy of deportation of Ukrainian children: "Ukraine seeks to adapt the best international practices in working with children, as well as to strengthen cooperation aimed at bringing perpetrators to justice for crimes of deportation and forced displacement. We also need support for systematic training of professionals who will investigate crimes against children. It is equally important to build capacity to collect evidence in the absence of access to the temporarily occupied territories, witnesses and victims, documents and other evidence."

Daria Herasymchuk, Advisor – Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights and Child Rehabilitation, placed emphasis on the project of information support for the topic of deportation of Ukrainian children to maintain global awareness of this tragedy.

"We must speak out loudly about the crime of deporting Ukrainian children and about all the efforts made by the international community and Ukraine to overcome this phenomenon. The Stolen Voices information campaign has already helped us draw the world's attention to the issue in the countries where we have previously conducted campaigns: Latvia, Germany, the United States, the Netherlands, etc. But together we can do much more," she is convinced.

Following the second plenary meeting of the International Coalition for the Return of Ukrainian Children, dozens of countries expressed their willingness to actively participate in the implementation of projects presented by Ukraine that will facilitate the return and reintegration of Ukrainian children.  

The International Coalition for the Return of Ukrainian Children is a continuation of the Bring Kids Back UA plan initiated by the President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and a key element of point four of the Ukrainian Peace Formula, "Release of Prisoners and Deported Persons."

The Head of the Presidential Office Andriy Yermak and Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Mélanie Joly officially launched the coalition in February this year, presenting the Framework Document at the first plenary session of the coalition. 

The total number of countries participating in the coalition has increased to 35 due to the accession of two new members – Liechtenstein and Slovenia. Ukraine is grateful to all partners for their active participation and calls on other states to join and facilitate the return of Ukrainian children.