Ombudsman: 13 more children return to Ukraine from Russia with Qatar's assistance

Another 13 children were returned to Ukraine from Russia with the help of Qatar, Ukraine's Chief Ombudsman Dmytro Lubinets announced on May 23.

Qatar acts as a mediator between Ukraine and Russia to bring back Ukrainian children illegally held by Russia.

At least 19,500 Ukrainian children have been confirmed as abducted by Russia since the start of its full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and less than 400 have been returned home, according to the Ukrainian government's Children of War database.

Seven of the 13 children were returned from Russian-occupied territories, while the remaining six were returned through the framework of the Bring Kids Back UA plan, initiated by President Volodymyr Zelensky. According to the announcement, a 15-year-old girl from occupied Mariupol was among the 13 returned children.

Lubinets visited Qatar in April, where he delivered a list with the names of 561 Ukrainian children illegally held in Russia to Qatari officials. He said he expects results on "other issues" discussed during his visit to the country.

The Ombudsman said that the Office of the Commissioner, other state bodies of Ukraine, as well as Qatar participated in the return of the children.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) issued an arrest warrant for Russian Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova and Russian President Vladimir Putin on March 17, 2023, over the deportation of Ukrainian children. The 123 member states of the ICC are required to arrest Putin if he steps foot on their territory.

Putin previously praised Lvova-Belova for her work overseeing the deportation of Ukrainian children, portraying it as a so-called "humanitarian effort" to "protect Russian citizens."

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