Qatar secured the release of six more deported Ukrainian children from Russia, Lolwah Al-Khater, Qatar’s minister of state for international cooperation, said, as reported by The Washington Post. A group of children from 8 to 15 years old is returning home.
“Building on the momentum of recent weeks, Qatar continues to play a mediating role between the Ukrainian and Russian governments, successfully facilitating the reunification of six additional Ukrainian children with their families in time for the festive holidays,” Al-Khater said.
The children have already met with Qatari diplomats at the Qatari embassy in Moscow. Minors will go to Ukraine via Belarus.
Among the group of Ukrainian children is an 11-year-old boy whose mother is a military and is currently in Russian captivity. “His father died about a decade ago, and he will now stay with a maternal aunt. Until now, he had been living with relatives in the Russian-occupied Donetsk region,” one of the officials said anonymously.
Qatari diplomats will accompany the children to the Ukrainian border, where the Ukrainian authorities will intercept the minors into their care.
This is the second group of children released with the help of Qatar’s mediation. The process takes place within the framework of the agreement between Russia and Ukraine, mediated by Doha. In October, a group of four Ukrainian children returned home. Also in November, a young man, Bohdan Yermokhin, who was deported from Mariupol to Russia, returned to Ukraine with the help of Qatar, who received a summons from the Russian Federation.
Russia began deporting Ukrainian children even before the full-scale invasion on February 24, 2022. Since 2014, the Russian Federation has deported more than 1.5 million minors, according to human rights activists.
Earlier, it was reported that the Russians in the occupied territories of Ukraine received instructions from the Kremlin to prepare new lists of children who do not have guardianship for further deportation, the National Resistance Center said.
On March 17, 2023, the International Criminal Court issued a warrant for the arrest of the President of Russia, Vladimir Putin, as well as Maria Alekseyevna Lvova-Belova, who is Russia’s Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights.
Putin and Lvova-Belova are suspected of committing the war crime of illegal deportation and transfer of children from the occupied regions of Ukraine to the Russian Federation, which took place at least since February 24, 2022.