No child from Ukraine should be adopted in Russia, a UN official said on Tuesday in New York, while several thousand of them are presumed to have been transferred to this country from the February 24 Russian invasion.
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“We always insist that no child be offered for adoption during a conflict” because the UN favors “the return of children to their families”, declared during a press conference Afshan Khan, director UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) Regional Office for Europe and Central Asia.
“Any decision to move a child must be based on their best interests and any movement must be voluntary”, with the agreement of the family, added the , who returns from a stay in Ukraine.
“We reaffirm, in particular to the Russian Federation, that adoption should never take place during or immediately after a “humanitarian” emergency, because children who are then separated from their families “cannot be considered orphans” , she insisted.
Regarding the children “who have been sent to Russia, we are working closely with mediators and networks to see how we can best document these cases”, added Afshan Khan, without being able to give figures.
Asked whether UNICEF had access to the children transferred to Russia, the official replied in the negative. “We do not have access to children beyond the borders of the Russian Federation. This is something that must be done in agreement with the government of the Russian Federation, at its request,” she said.
The UN had already expressed concern in early March about the risk of forced adoption of Ukrainian children, in particular those, numbering around 100,000, living in institutions or boarding schools, many of them located in the east of the country, without being necessarily orphans and half of whom are handicapped.