On the occasion of the International Children’s Day on 1 June, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, issued a joint statement condemning Russia’s illegal deportation of Ukrainian children.
“Every child has the right to be free, protected and kept safe. However, Russia’s war of aggression is depriving Ukrainian children of these rights,” the statement said, adding: “We vehemently condemn illegal deportation and transfer of Ukrainian children, adding to the list of Russia’s war crimes.”
Meeting on the sidelines of the second meeting of the European Political Community in Moldova, Zelenskyy and von der Leyen urgently called on Russia “to immediately stop these deportations, to put an end to the practice of so-called ‘expedited adoptions’ and return these children”.
They said they were committed to do everything needed to establish the whereabouts of deported Ukrainian children and facilitate their safe return.
The joint statement added the war was having a devastating impact on all Ukrainian children, often leaving profound psychological scars. “Children endure tremendous stress, anxiety, and can suffer from psychological trauma and mental disorders.”
The leaders pledged to establish a specialised e-learning program for paediatricians and primary care medical staff that would equip healthcare professionals with the necessary skills to provide trauma care and improve children’s mental health conditions. “We are committed to offering specialised rehabilitation services to distressed children in both Ukraine and the European Union.”
They added they would work together to ensure the children of Ukraine could enjoy a bright future, now and after the war.
“We are dedicated to supporting Ukraine’s child protection reform. We will provide both financial assistance and expert support to facilitate a comprehensive childcare reform, focusing on family-based forms of upbringing, and on the protection of children. The European Commission has committed to supporting Ukraine’s childcare reform, with a pledge of €10 million,” the statement said.
Approximately 1.3 million Ukrainian children currently reside in the EU, and benefit from the Temporary Protection Directive, which provides these displaced Ukrainian children with immediate access to healthcare, education, and other social systems within the EU. “We are committed to continue ensuring their proper enrolment in education, and work towards the mutual recognition of their learning outcomes,” von der Leyen and Zelenskyy said.
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