Need to address the urgent concerns surrounding Ukrainian children forcibly deported to Russia

Madam President, dear colleagues, dear brave Ukrainian girl, Valeriia, to date, around 20 000 Ukrainian children have been stolen from their homeland and deported to Russia, with only 400 having been returned. Since 2014, estimates suggest the number of these forcibly displaced children could be as high as 700 000. Many of these children are orphans or kids without parental care.

Deportation – a war crime under the Rome Statute and the Fourth Geneva Convention – is being used as a weapon against the most vulnerable. The goal of this merciless policy is as clear as it is cruel: to erase the Ukrainian identity of these children and ‘Russify’ them.

I grew up in Soviet-occupied Lithuania, so I know what ‘Russification’ and ‘Sovietisation’ means. The names of children are changed; their birth certificates are altered. They are bombarded with Russian propaganda and forced to attend Russian military processions. Their forcible deportation is not merely a violation of international law; it is a calculated act of cultural and national genocide, aiming to extinguish the very essence of Ukraine’s future.

We call on the EU to condemn these actions and to recognise them as part of a genocidal policy against the Ukrainian people. We also urge the EU to establish a dedicated team and provide sustainable, well-funded support to assist Ukraine in identifying, returning and rehabilitating these children, and to continue supporting organisations like Golosy Ditey, which are crucial in these efforts.