Joint EU initiative hopes to recover thousands of abducted Ukrainian children


Eastern Europe


A makeshift memorial dedicated to children killed, wounded, deported and missing in the context of Russia's war against Ukraine is seen outside the Russian embassy in Berlin. Photo AFP, Odd Andersen

Poland and the European Commission plan to launch an initiative aimed at finding thousands of lost Ukrainian children.

According to UN data, which was published in Notes from Poland, almost 14,000 children are estimated to be abducted from Ukraine and taken to Russia or Russian-occupied territories. However, a report in TVP World says that conservative estimates show that there have been at least 6,000 cases of “documented child theft.”

Ukraine’s presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights and Rehabilitation, Daria Herasymchuk, said that while the exact number of abductions is unknown, many of them may have been put up for adoption by Russian families. The UN’s Refugee Agency (UNHCR) as well as ministers from Germany and the Netherlands have condemned Russia’s “cruel” and “inhumane” actions that are currently “tearing families apart.”


On Saturday, Poland’s Secretary of State at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Szymon Szynkowski vel Sęk, raised awareness of the issue and spoke about its importance.

“We cannot close our eyes to this problem. The Western world must respond and must collect evidence of these crimes and ensure that those responsible for these crimes are brought to justice,” he said in the Notes From Poland report.

Vel Sęk also noted that Poles can recount historical memories within this area. During World War II, Nazi Germany kidnapped thousands of Polish children and placed them with German families in an attempt to “Germanise” them.


Vel Sęk said to TVP that the initiative will involve collecting evidence and utilising the most advanced techniques, so that Ukrainian children can come home to their families. The participants also hope that they will catch potential traffickers and bring them to justice.

As reported by TVN24, authorities in Kyiv believe that at least 13,600 children under the age of 18 were forcibly deported. Many of these children are thought to be orphans, and their fate is currently unknown. According to the Geneva Conventions for the Protection of Victims of War, forced deportations involving children is a violation of international law.

War crimes

This year on 24 February marked the one-year anniversary of the war in Ukraine. Since the war broke out, Poland has been involved in ongoing investigations of Russian war crimes in Ukraine. Poland has also joined 41 other countries in a call for the International Criminal Court to investigate war crimes in Ukraine, according to Notes from Poland.



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