”People need to see that there is such a number.” Childrenʼs Ombudsman Gerasymchuk explained why data on children abducted to the Russian Federation differ

Maria Zhartovska, Oleg Panfilovych

The National Information Bureau received more than 7,000 statements about the illegal removal of Ukrainian children by the Russians.

Darya Gerasymchuk, Commissioner for Childrenʼs Rights, told about this in an interview with Babel.

"The number of more than 7,000 children is a concrete list of displaced children by name. It is compiled according to statements received by the National Information Bureau. This list is then refined by various departments — for example, the National Social Service Service of Ukraine. It is checked for the presence of orphans and children deprived of parental care," Gerasymchuk said.

According to her, this list is supplemented with information about the childrenʼs representatives or relatives. "We collect data on each child from various databases in Ukraine. The formed list then becomes the basis for the search. The National Information Bureau refers it to the International Committee of the Red Cross, other international organizations that have a mandate for search operations. The Ukrainian side has specific data and facts about these children," Gerasymchuk explained.

As for the data on the deportation of 557,000 children, according to the commissioner, this is a number from open sources, which is voiced by the Russian authorities and mass media. It is increasing, but it is not supported by data — lists of children who are taken away. "The Russians do not provide data at the request of the Ukrainian side or the international community. Ukraine can neither confirm nor deny this information. But we note it so that people understand that such a number exists, it is communicated and seen in the mass media," said Gerasymchuk.

She also said that Russia could deport and relocate children from the temporarily occupied territories of Donetsk and Luhansk regions starting in 2014. There were institutional care facilities for children, but there are no specific lists of which children were there when the full-scale invasion began.

"We cannot say who exactly they could take out of those territories and how many. At the beginning of the full-scale invasion, only one institution of institutional care remained — a sanatorium in Mariupol, where children were staying. They were forcibly taken away, stolen. There were 17 children there, 15 have already been returned, the process of returning two more is underway," Gerasymchuk noted.

The childrenʼs ombudsman explained that the Russian military is blocking all possible agreements regarding humanitarian corridors for the removal of children.