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March 17, 2023
March 7 (Reuters) – Ukraine has brought 307 children out of Russia-occupied territories, the country’s human rights ombudsman said on Monday, including an 8-year-old boy who was recently reunited with his grandmother.
Ukraine’s authorities estimate more than 16,000 children have been deported to Russia since the start of the war a year ago. Russia has said it has been evacuating people voluntarily from Ukraine.
“At the end of February, the office of the Commissioner for Human Rights received a request to help bring back a child who was in the territory temporarily occupied by Russia,” Dmytro Lubinets, the ombudsman, said on the Telegram messaging platform.
“Within a few days, with the assistance and work of the staff of the ombudsman’s office, Sashko met his grandmother.”
The ombudsmen did not reveal details on the operation.
Most of the movement of people occurred in the first few months of the war before Ukraine started its major counter offensive to regain occupied territories in the east and south in late August. Russia’s defense ministry said in mid-August that 3.5 million people had been brought to Russia by then, including more than half a million children.
According to Ukraine Prosecutor General’s office, 464 children have died so far in the war, now in its 13th month with no end in sight, while the police estimate that 356 are still missing.
Moscow has denied intentionally targeting civilians in what it calls a “special military operation” in Ukraine, and has pushed back against previous claims that it had forcibly moved Ukrainians.