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Supervisor Elham AbolFateh
Editor in Chief Mohamed Wadie

Russia, Ukraine to Exchange Displaced Children


Thu 25 Apr 2024 | 10:44 AM
Israa Farhan

Russia and Ukraine have reportedly reached an agreement on the exchange of nearly 50 children who were forced to flee due to the ongoing war.

According to statements from Kremlin's Children's Rights Commissioner Maria Lofova Belova this agreement marks the first direct talks between the two sides.

Belova mentioned that 29 children are expected to return to Ukraine, while 19 will be repatriated to Russia.

The Kremlin has faced accusations of forcibly relocating Ukrainian children to Russian territories following the invasion, leading to the issuance of an arrest warrant against Belova by the International Criminal Court.

However, Ukrainian officials have not confirmed the existence of this agreement. Dmytro Lubinets, the Ukrainian Parliamentary Commissioner for Human Rights, stated that there had been no direct communication between the two countries regarding this matter.

Since July 2023, Qatar has been assisting in the repatriation of dozens of Ukrainian children who were transferred to Russia during the conflict.

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky confirmed that sixteen Ukrainian children benefited from a previous exchange deal, receiving medical, psychological, and social care in Qatar.

However, he did not address Russia's claim of a new exchange deal involving 48 children, with 19 set to return to Russia.

Ukraine alleges that Russia unlawfully took more than 19,000 of its children since the invasion began in 2022, with fewer than 400 returned.

Moscow denies these allegations, stating it relocated children away from combat zones for their safety.

Some children lost their fathers, while others were separated from caregivers due to rapidly shifting front lines at the war's onset.

Discussions between the two countries and Qatari mediators also included the issue of Ukrainian civilians detained in Russia and the potential role of Qatar as a mediator between Ukraine and Russia.

Qatar's State Minister for International Cooperation, Lolwah Al-Khater, emphasized that family reunions represent a pivotal moment and a very happy moment for Qatar.

In recent months, Qatar has mediated between Israel and Hamas to secure a ceasefire and prisoner exchange in Gaza, as well as negotiated the release of American and Iranian prisoners in September last year.