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Ukraine returned three more children home from occupation

Ukraine returned three more children home from occupation Photo: Ukraine returned three more children home from the occupation (Getty Images)

Ukraine has successfully repatriated three more children from the temporarily occupied territories. All three are now safe, awaiting rehabilitation and a return to normal life, reports the head of the Save Ukraine organization, Mykola Kuleba.

Kuleba highlighted that this marked the 14th rescue mission by the organization, during which they successfully brought home 14 children, seven of whom were deprived of parental care.

Among the returned children is 8-year-old Yelysei, who lived with his grandmother in the occupied part of the Kherson region at the beginning of the full-scale invasion. His mother was living in Odessa at that time. After the grandmother's death, the occupiers immediately placed the child in an orphanage. His second cousin went with him, but they did not allow her to take the child.

"Action was needed because if a child spends half a year on Russian territory without parental care, they are given the appropriate status, allowing them to be placed in a Russian family or to choose another way of arrangement. So our team did everything to ensure that the mother received the necessary medical help and could take the child from the occupied territory," explained Kuleba.

On her journey, the woman had to undergo interrogations by the FSB, interviews, and other obstacles.

Along with Yelysei, two 18-year-old brothers, Andrii and Mykhailo, also returned. Both were orphans who were raised in a foster family in the occupied territory before the start of the war.

"After reaching adulthood, the boys realized that very soon the occupation authorities would send them to fight against their own people. In Ukraine, both were wanted as missing persons," noted Kuleba.

Deportation of children

Since the beginning of the full-scale Russian invasion, Russia has been systematically deporting Ukrainian children to annexed Crimea, Belarus, or remote regions of Russia.

These deportations prompted the International Criminal Court in The Hague to issue an arrest warrant for dictator Vladimir Putin and the authorized representative for children's rights in the Russian Federation, Maria Lvova-Belova, due to the illegal deportation of Ukrainian children.

Recently, Ukraine brought home a 12-year-old boy who was taken to Russia by occupiers after living under occupation for about 18 months.