European ombudsman institute accused of sending Ukrainian children from Austria to Russia

Ukraine's human rights ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets accused a member of the European Ombudsman Institute (EOI) of taking two Ukrainian children from Austria into Russia.

In a Facebook post published on Feb. 8, Lubinets said that Josef Ziegele, the EOI's general secretary, was behind the alleged deportation, which he called a violation of Articles 49 and 50 of the Geneva Convention and a possible act of genocide under Article 2.

According to Lubinets, the children were in Austria because of Russia's war against Ukraine.

Austrian authorities are reportedly investigating the allegation. Lubinets said that the EOI did not conduct its own internal investigation and urged other members to resign as well. The EOI has not yet commented on Lubinets' statement.

Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, Russia has been seizing Ukrainian children in occupied territories, forcibly sending them to live in Russia, and putting them up for adoption by Russian families.

According to Daria Herasymchuk, Ukraine’s presidential advisor for children’s rights and rehabilitation, Russia abducted nearly 14,000 Ukrainian children as of Jan. 17. Only 125 of them were returned home, she said.