Ukrainian officials accuse the Russian government of being involved in deportation policies, moving civilians, including thousands of children, to Russia against their will and detaining them “like the soul of an exchange fund.” did.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said on Sunday that more than 2,000 children were “stolen” from the besieged port city of Mariupol, which has been under Russian attack since the early days of the invasion.
Calling the situation in the city a “humanitarian catastrophe,” Zelensky wrote in a collection of independent Russian journalists, “According to our information, more than 2000 children were taken out. It was stolen. That means. ”
“The exact location of them is unknown. They may be there with or without parents. Overall, it’s a disaster. I have no idea what it looks like. I’m scared. They are them. Like a soul. For the exchange fund. “
Ukrainian authorities have made similar claims in other regions. CNN cannot independently test its claim on the number of children taken to Russia from Mariupol and other towns.
What is being claimed? The Russian Ministry of Defense said on March 20 that 16,434 people, including 2,389 children, had been evacuated from various locations the day before. According to the ministry, these locations include the Russian-backed People’s Republic of Donetsk and the People’s Republic of Lugansk. People have abandoned their will.
But the next day, the Ukrainian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that the same number of children were actually forcibly evacuated from the Donetsk and Luhansk areas by Russian troops. “Such behavior is a serious violation of international law, especially international humanitarian law.” The ministry said.
Since then, estimates from Ukraine for the number of people deported to Russia have risen.
On Saturday, Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk said the Ukrainian government estimated the number of Ukrainians forcibly transferred to Russia because the invasion was close to 40,000.
These claims were endorsed by Denis Pushilin, the leader of the pro-Russian Donetsk People’s Republic. He said on Sunday that about 1,700 people were “evacuated” daily from the besieged Ukrainian port city of Mariupol and other towns.
“On average, about 1,700 people arrive at the Voloda temporary shelter for evacuees every day, and the same number of people leave,” Pushilin said in a statement about Telegram. Nicholske, about 13 miles northwest of Mariupol’s.
“The inhabitants of Mariupol and other settlements, freed from the occupation of the Kyiv government, arrive here. People are provided with basic necessities, medical care and then evacuated to the Russian Federation.”
Debate over the Red Cross: In the alleged Russian policy debate, there was also debate about the role of the Red Cross’s humanitarian network.
On Friday, Vereshchuk made a “very suspicious decision” by Peter Maurer, head of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), to open an office in Lostov, about 60 km (37 miles) from the Ukrainian border. I accused him of doing it. She suggested that the office had “legalized” Russia’s deportation.
The Red Cross has issued a statement rejecting these allegations. The ICRC has generally kept its name low and responded to “online dissemination of false information” that Russia has helped move tens of thousands of people out of the country.
Although Rostov does not have an office, “We are expanding our regional settings to meet the needs we are seeing. Our priority is to ensure a stable supply of life-saving aid wherever people are. To secure it. “
CNN’s Nathan Hodge, Andrew Carrie and Olga Boytbitch contributed to the press.