Volodymyr Zelensky calls for unity between Poland and Ukraine, the day after a mobilization of Polish farmers

Ukrainian children repatriated from Russia

Ukrainian children were welcomed Tuesday evening by their relatives as they left Belarus, during the latest transfer of children taken to Russia and the territories occupied during the war. This is the fourth group of children brought back thanks to Qatar’s mediation, the largest so far (eleven in total), Ukrainian mediator Dmytro Lubinets told Agence France-Presse (AFP). the border.

Their relatives waited more than six hours at a crossing point used for humanitarian purposes before the children – the youngest being 2 years old – came out of the darkness, before being hugged for a long time.

“I’m happy, and that’s it”, says Oleksandr, 16, the oldest. Smiling shyly, he sums up his feelings with “joy and a little nervousness, but otherwise everything is fine”. “My first thought is that my new life is actually beginning. »

Her aunt Viktoria, 47, says her nephew, originally from Sievierodonetsk (eastern Ukraine), had been living in a home since the death of his mother and older brother, in the Luhansk region in July 2022, when their car was bombed as they tried to evacuate.

Oleksandr, who told her he sometimes dreams of his dying mother, will need psychological support, she says. Since the start of the war, she has only been able to speak once, on the phone, with him, and has gone three times to the border areas to try, in vain, to look for him. “Our situation seemed stuck, but ultimately everything was resolved”she rejoices.

He was sent to a state boarding school in Luhansk, an occupied city in eastern Ukraine, where his papers were taken from him “by deception”she relates. “They put psychological pressure on him to prevent him from leaving”, she adds. This mother will take him home to Zhytomyr, near kyiv.

“We’ll party and show him around town”she said, but the teen also has to catch up on school and recover from injuries sustained in the bombed car.

A woman, a member of the Ukrainian armed forces, came to pick up her 13-year-old son, after being detained by Russia as a prisoner of war for several months in 2022.

The group was welcomed on Monday at the Qatari embassy in Moscow. These included two seriously ill children, taken by ambulance and hospitalized. “The main thing, believe me, is that we will bring them all back”assures Dmytro Lubinets. “It’s Qatar that helps us the most”he emphasizes to Agence France-Presse (AFP). “With the emergence of an intermediary we simply have new approaches, and you can see the result”, he continues. Before this mediation, “We have seen the reluctance of the Russian side to carry out these processes. Today it has become much easier,” adds Mr. Lubinets.

Qatar, which since July 2023 has helped the repatriation of thirty Ukrainian children, is ready to contribute to other returns, its ambassador, Hadi Nasser Mansour Al-Hajri, told AFP.

kyiv accuses Russia of having “deported” thousands of children to its territory from the regions it occupies in Ukraine, Moscow ensuring, for its part, that it has transferred them to ensure their safety in the face of the fighting and is ready to hand them over to their relatives in Ukraine if they- here they request it. The International Criminal Court last year issued an arrest warrant against Vladimir Putin and Russian Children’s Commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova for ” war crime “ due to this policy, a decision that the Kremlin considers null and void.

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