A number that sends shivers down your spine. Although the situation had been known for several months, no study had ever managed to assess the number of Ukrainian children deported by Russia on the sidelines of the conflict between it and Kiev. This Wednesday, February 15, the New York Times relayed the results of a study by Yale University (Connecticut) and the Conflict Observatory program, responsible for documenting and publishing evidence of Russian war crimes in Ukraine. According to their research, the Russian authorities currently detain at least 6,000 children in camps based in Russia or Crimea.
This deportation is part of a Moscow program to "Russify" the occupied areas. Children displaced in Russia - or Crimea - range in age from 4 months to 17 years old and are part of "integration programs". In effect, the children are being "re-educated" with the Russian government's "vision of culture, history and society," the report details. In some cases, children are held in camps before being put up for adoption by Russian families.
Russia does not hide from these transfers of children. Thus, it is not uncommon to see in Russian propaganda the face of Maria Lvova-Belova, who is the Russian Commissioner for Children's Rights. Under his orders, several thousand children were taken away from their Ukrainian parents. Faced with protests from kyiv, she does not hesitate to reply that "the children do not want to return to their parents, they love Russia now".
According to the experts, quoted by our American colleagues, these transfers of children represent yet another war crime on the part of Russia. "There have been credible allegations of forcible transfers of unaccompanied children to Russian-occupied territory or to the Russian Federation itself," the UN Under-Secretary-General for Human Rights said last September. man, Ilze Brands Kehris. This new report goes even further. It implicates "the Russian federal government" directly, the authors of the report judging that these transfers are almost systematic. To date, there are said to be at least 43 camps in Russia and Crimea. But the consortium of experts urges caution: it is highly "likely" that the true numbers "are […] much higher".