Ukraine seeks G20 focus on Russian deportations of children

┬áHead of Ukraine’s Presidential Office Andriy Yermak attends a news briefing about prisoners of war (POWs) swap, amid Russia’s attack on Ukraine, in Kyiv, Ukraine September 22, 2022. REUTERS FILE PHOTO

Ukraine has collated thousands of reports of its children being deported to Russia and wants their plight addressed at a summit of the Group of 20 major economies, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s chief of staff was quoted as saying on Tuesday.

“The Russian Federation continues to commit its crimes in connection with Ukrainian children,” Zelensky’s office quoted Andriy Yermak as saying at a meeting he chaired of a group of officials responsible for child protection. “The removal of children continues.”

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The U.S. envoy to the United Nations said in early September that more than 1,800 children were transferred from Russia-controlled areas of Ukraine, to Russia, in July alone. Ukraine wants such deportations investigated as a war crime.

The statement by Zelensky’s office said its National Information Bureau showed 10,500 children had been deported or forcibly displaced. Ukraine’s minister responsible for reintegrating Russian-occupied territories noted at the meeting that only 96 children had been returned.

Yermak was quoted as saying Ukraine could count on U.N. help, but he restated Ukraine’s lack of confidence in the International Committee of the Red Cross to help.

“Unfortunately, due to the very passive position of international organizations, in particular the ICRC, today we are unable to determine the exact number, how many, and where our children are,” he said.

Yermak said discussions about the return of the children should start at the Nov. 15-16 G20 summit in Indonesia, which Zelensky is expected to attend, most likely remotely.

Yermak referred at the meeting to Children of War, a portal where the country collects reports on the impact of the war.