Activists Launch Project to Map Ukrainian Children Deported to Russia
A project that aims to track and locate thousands of children who were forcibly deported from Ukraine to Russia has been launched by a group of independent activists in partnership with Novaya Gazeta Europe and Greenhouse of Social Technologies.
The project Kidmapping serves as an information resource for parents, human rights advocates, volunteers, and activists. It has mapped more than 250 locations where Ukrainian children have been forcibly relocated, including Russia, Belarus, and the occupied territories of Ukraine.
The group expressed their belief that by working together, it is possible to bring the children back home. They emphasized the importance of clear information about the children's location and the circumstances surrounding their return.
To compile their data, Kidmapping utilized information from Russian media, social media, and Russian governmental institutions. They created a comprehensive list of over 1,300 places across Russia, complete with physical and email addresses, as well as phone numbers, where the deported Ukrainian children may be located.
Earlier this year, the Humanitarian Research Lab (HRL) at the Yale School of Public Health released a study revealing that Russia had systematically relocated over 6,000 children from Ukraine to re-education and adoption institutions in Crimea and mainland Russia.
The report indicated that children ranging from four months to 17 years had been arriving in camps and other institutions since February 2022, with the most recent transfers occurring in January.
However, according to Ukraine's National Information Bureau's platform 'Children of war,' the number of Ukrainian children believed to be deported to Russia since the beginning of the Russian invasion in February 2022 exceeds 19,300.
Kidmapping contradicts these figures, claiming that the transfer of children began years ago.
They highlighted that although they have been tracking data since January 2022, children have been transported from the territories of the so-called Donetsk People's Republic (DNR) and Lugansk People's Republic (LNR) for nine years.
The project accused the Russian Federation's Investigative Committee (SKR), the Russian Orthodox Church, and numerous humanitarian organizations of playing a significant role in relocating and "educating" Ukrainian minors.
Ukrainian children were forced to renounce their native language and become Russian citizens after being transported to Russia, as several victims told OCCRP and its Ukrainian member center Slidstvo.Info. They described verbal abuse, terrifying threats, and provided evidence in the form of photos and videos depicting their austere living conditions.
On March 15, the UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on Ukraine concluded that Russian authorities had committed a wide range of violations of international human rights law and international humanitarian law in various regions of Ukraine and the Russian Federation.
The report revealed that these violations included war crimes such as “willful killings, attacks on civilians, unlawful confinement, torture, rape, and forced transfers and deportations of children.”
Subsequently, on March 17, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, his commissioner for children's rights.
The ICC charged them with direct responsibility for the large-scale unlawful deportation of Ukrainian children to Russian-controlled territory, constituting a war crime under international law.