Kiev perd peu à peu la trace des enfants ukrainiens déportés en Russie

Mykola Kuleba, directeur général de Save Ukraine, à Kiev, le 22 mars 2023.

When it’s time to resume his journey and go, for the second time in a month, before a UN body in New York, Mykola Kuleba, a calm man who never raises his voice in public, cannot hide the anger that drives him. “What can I say to the world? I will tell them: ‘Shame on you!’ And I will ask them why the UN or anyone else is doing nothing, why they are abandoning Ukrainian children.”

Save Ukraine, led by Mykola Kuleba, has alone repatriated 176 out of the 386 Ukrainian children deported to Russia and brought back to their country. This is a small fraction compared to the deportation plan, which legal experts consider to be a form of genocide. As a result, Russian President Vladimir Putin and Moscow’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, have become the first two individuals involved in the Russian-Ukrainian war to be targeted with an arrest warrant from the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague.

Kiev has identified 19,546 deported children, while Moscow claims to have “welcomed” 744,000 children, accompanied or not, on Russian territory. The reality of the crime, referred to as “deportation” and “forced population transfer” by the Geneva Conventions, lies between these two figures. Mykola Kuleba raises his arms in a gesture of helplessness. “And even then,” adds this former defender of children’s rights under the Ukrainian presidency, “if we count all those living in the occupied Ukrainian territories since 2014 and in Russia, it is approximately 1.5 million Ukrainian children who are victims of a state policy of russification, changing their identity, passport, and being taught to hate Ukraine.”

“I cannot reword”

M. Kuleba, qui s’apprête à intervenir, mardi 19 septembre, en marge de l’Assemblée générale des Nations unies, avait déjà pris la parole à New York le 24 août, jour de l’indépendance de l’Ukraine, devant le Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU. Suppliant les puissants du monde d’accorder « aide et assistance » aux « enfants volés » par la Russie, il avait pointé un aspect rarement évoqué : le fait que des enfants vivant en territoires occupés depuis près de dix ans soient devenus « des armes de guerre » contre l’Ukraine.

“I cannot reword”

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