Russia kills at least 240 Ukrainian children, forcibly deports thousands of others
14-year-old Viacheslav Yalyshev was killed by a Russian bomb on 2 May 2022. He had run to tell his elderly neighbours that they needed to get to the bomb shelter and could not reach safety before the Russians hit their hostel in Odesa for the second time that day. Viacheslav’s father is in the Ukrainian Armed Forces, but that, even for the Russian aggressor, does not justify killing a child. As reported, Russia has already bombed clear civilian targets in Odesa, with victims killed including three-month-old Kira, her mother and grandmother, as well as a young couple who were expecting their first child.
Denis Selievin was 15 years old and had hoped to become a computer programmer. He was killed by the Russian military on 5 May as he and his parents were trying to feed and help to evacuate animals from the Feldman Ecopark in Kharkiv which, like the rest of the Kharkiv oblast was under constant attack from the Russians. Six members of staff or volunteers have been killed since Russia began its total invasion of Ukraine
As of 26 May, 240 children had been killed as a result of Russia’s full-scale war against Ukraine, with 676 injured. Fourteen children have had to have legs or arms amputated.
In fact, of course, the number of victims is considerably higher. At a press briefing on 13 May, Presidential advisor on the Rights of the Child, Darya Herasymchuk stated that:
“When I’m asked how many Ukrainian children have received war-related injuries, I say that this is over seven million children from among Ukraine’s population. This is absolutely every child who has heard syrens, seen the reaction of their parents and their experiences; who was forced to move around the territory of the country or beyond, who lost the ability to go to school; who is waiting for their mother or father, or sometimes both parents, who are defending Ukraine at the front.”
Herasymchuk reported that 2,389 children have been taken by force to Russia from territory under present Russian occupation. The whereabouts of some are known, but in other cases efforts are underway, including with the help of the International Red Cross, to find them. She pointed out that the real figure may be significantly higher since the Ukrainian authorities do not have access to reliable information about occupied territory. Russia itself has claimed to have taken almost 200 thousand children from Ukraine. Herasymchuk also noted Russian reports in April suggesting that they were planning to simplify adoption procedure, enabling citizens of a country currently waging war against Ukraine to adopt Ukrainian children abducted and forcibly taken to Russia.
The President’s Representative on Crimea reported on 22 May that they are aware of three children from occupied Melitopol (Zaporizhzhia oblast) who were taken to occupied Crimea for medical treatment. The children are indeed very ill, however any Russian efforts to gain propaganda benefits from organizing treatment are especially cynical since the aggressor state has itself created the current humanitarian crisis and is blocking people from leaving parts of the Zaporizhzhia, Kherson oblasts and Donetsk oblasts for government-controlled Ukraine.
Children’s most fundamental rights have been violated in all areas which were or remain under Russian occupation, including, unfortunately, the right to life, given Russia’s destruction of civilian infrastructure, the atrocities it has committed on occupied territory and the fact that people are prevented from safely leaving the cities or towns under Russian siege.