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International Coalition for the Return of Ukrainian Children

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About the Coalition

The International Coalition for the Return of Ukrainian Children (the “Coalition”) was officially launched in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 2, 2024. The Coalition will coordinate joint efforts and cooperation between Ukraine and partner states to address the issue of the unlawful deportation and forced transfer of Ukrainian children by the Russian Federation.

The Coalition is co-chaired by the Government of Ukraine and the Government of Canada and aims to bring Ukrainian children home to their families and communities. The Coalition will also focus efforts on supporting their reunification with families.

Russia’s unlawful deportation and forced transfer of Ukrainian children

Thousands of children are reported to have been illegally deported or forcibly transferred. The large-scale displacement, transfer or illegal abductions of Ukrainian children is undisputed. So far, fewer than 400 children have been successfully returned to Ukraine from Russia, of estimated thousands.

The issue of displaced Ukrainian children has been ongoing since Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2014 and has come to light following Russia’s full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine in 2022.

In March 2023, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants against President Putin and Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, on the basis of reasonable grounds to believe that each bears responsibility for the war crime of “unlawful deportation of population (children) and of unlawful transfer of population (children) from occupied areas of Ukraine to the Russian Federation.”

The Coalition for the Return of Ukrainian Children

The ultimate objective of the Coalition is to bring Ukrainian children home to their families and communities. This will be done in compliance with international law, by keeping the best interests of the child at the core of the Coalition’s actions.

In support of these efforts, Canada and Ukraine will work together toward the following goals:

  1. Coordination of Joint Efforts: Coordinate joint efforts among Ukraine and partner states to address challenges related to the unlawful deportation and forced transfer of children.
  2. Information Sharing: Ensure timely, accurate and ethical sharing of information, supporting the creation of robust statistics and coordinating the ethical sharing of relevant case details between Ukrainian authorities and partners, and to response mechanisms supporting the unlawful deportation and forced transfer of Ukrainian children.
  3. Capacities alignment: Synchronize the diverse capacities, expertise, and financial resources of Ukraine and partners to support the Coalition’s work.
  4. Advocacy and Communication: Advance efforts to secure the release of children through awareness raising meetings, and in international forums via high-level diplomatic engagements.

Canada’s role in the Coalition

As co-chair, Canada will work closely with Ukraine to organize the Coalition, to support dialogue and information exchange and to coordinate key messages between key stakeholders. We will focus on amplifying many of the existing efforts and sharing lessons learned, specifically those that have successfully resulted in the return of children.

As part of this initiative, Canada will offer practical expertise, with Canadian officials ready to assist their Ukrainian counterparts should they express a need for technical expertise and resources.

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