Russia is not ‘protecting’ children from the Ukraine war

On May 12, Russia’s ambassador to the United Nations, Vassily Nebenzia, denied that his country had carried out attacks on children in Ukraine, calling such accusations “absurd.”

Nebenzia’s statements were made during a UN Security Council meeting to discuss the serious effects on children of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Security Council members discussed high-tech methods to help Ukrainian children continue their education while protecting them when their schools came under artillery and airstrikes.

Omar Abdi, deputy executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), called the war in Ukraine “a crisis of protection and children’s rights.”

Nebenzia sought to turn the tables.

He claimed that kyiv has been indoctrinating and discriminating against children in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine for years. He accused Ukrainian forces of attacking schools and causing 190,000 children to flee to Russia, which she said is caring for and educating them.

“The Russian Armed Forces are doing everything possible to protect children during the course of their special military operation in Ukraine,” Nebenzia said.

That is false.

International child protection groups and media reports have documented Russian attacks on schools and children. Ukraine counts at least 220 children killed in the war and says Russian strikes have destroyed 130 educational facilities and damaged more than 1,500.

With the continuing fighting, there is no definitive count of how many children have been orphaned or displaced. Still, there is little doubt that millions have been put at risk.

The UN said last week that more than 6 million people had left Ukraine, most fleeing to Poland (3.2 million), followed by Romania, Russia and other bordering countries.

UNICEF said in their latest estimate, 8 million people are displaced from their homes within Ukraine, and that half of displaced households reported at least one child. According to the UNICEF report, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights said 238 children were killed and 347 injured between February 24, when the war began, and May 9.

“With more than 8 million people currently internally displaced across Ukraine and 5.9 million people seeking refuge in neighboring countries and beyond, the total number of people forced to flee their homes due to war is now approaching to 14 million,” UNICEF said.

In total, UNICEF said, some 3 million children inside Ukraine need some form of assistance.

The dislocation has put the health of these children at risk just as the World Health Organization accused Russia of bombing dozens of hospitals and health centers across Ukraine.

UNICEF said “You have already seen a reduction in vaccination coverage for routine and childhood immunizations, including measles and polio. This could quickly lead to outbreaks of vaccine-preventable diseases, especially in overcrowded areas where people are sheltering from violence.”

Teachers in Ukraine are working to provide stability for displaced children, as well as emergency support such as evacuation and humanitarian aid, the UK Guardian newspaper informed.

After the Ukrainian army expelled the occupying Russian forces from the city of Borodyanka on April 1Returning residents found their local school ransacked, with slogans such as “Russia, our beloved country” written on the walls.

On May 8, executive director of unicef, catherine russell, denounced an attack on a school in Bilohorivka, in eastern Ukraine. Locals were taking shelter in the facility’s bunker, she said.

“We don’t yet know how many children may have been killed or injured in the reported bombing, but we fear this attack has added to the hundreds of children who have already lost their lives in this war,” Russell said.

Reuters reported that up to 60 people may have died in that strike. A few weeks later, on March 20, Ukrainian authorities said that Russia bombed an art school in Mariupol where some 400 people (women, children, elderly) were sheltering.

Nebenzia, the UN official, stated that 190,000 Ukrainian children had been transported to Russia. state news agency TASS reported in April that the country’s education ministry was arranging for Russian families to take in Ukrainian orphans.

Lilia Gumerova, chairwoman of the Russian Senate’s education committee, said last month that she was horrified that Ukrainian children brought from the “liberated territories of Ukraine” did not speak Russian. She promised that they would attend summer school to learn Russian and “free their languages.”

Ukrainian authorities maintain that Ukrainian children are being forcibly deported to Russia in violation of international law.

On May 13, Ukrainian human rights defenderLyudmyla Denisova accused Russia of taking more than 210,000 Ukrainian children and trying to make them Russian citizens, Reuters reported. The news agency said it “was unable to independently verify the figure given by Denisova or her allegations, for which it provided no supporting evidence.”

At a press conference on the same day, Daria Herasymchuk, adviser to the Ukrainian president on children’s rights, also accused Russia of forcibly deporting Ukrainian children to Russia.

Herasymchuk said he cited a count of 2,500 kidnapped children, but said it could be higher. He added that the government had received 1,112 messages about missing children.

Freedom Fund Organization, a non-profit organization fighting slavery and exploitation, cited Russian Defense Ministry claims that 951,000 Ukrainians were deported to Russia, including 174,689 children. Freedom Fund said the exact count of unaccompanied children is unknown.

The Ukrainian authorities have warned that Russia intends put unaccompanied Ukrainian children for adoption in Russian families.

“Russian invaders say they are orphans, but all orphans, including orphanages, were evacuated from Mariupol and centralized on February 24-25 during the first two days of the war,” Ukraine’s rights watchdog. Denisova said on Facebook.

“Article 21 of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child states that intercountry adoption can only be considered as an alternative means of caring for a child if the child cannot be placed in a foster home or with a family that can support him. or raising or adopting her in the country of origin.”

Russian soldiers are accused of sexual violence against minors.

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty (RFE/RL), an American news agency sister to Voice of America and, reported on the alleged rape and pregnancy of a 14-year-old girl from Bucha, a suburb of kyiv.

During the Security Council meeting on May 12, the UK ambassador, Barbara Woodward, said that she had credible claims that Russian soldiers used sexual violence against children.

“As others have said, mass displacement has left children exposed to human trafficking and sexual exploitation,” Woodward said.

The ombudsman, Denisova, said that her office had received during the first two weeks of April 400 complaints of violations by Russian troops.

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