A groundbreaking study conducted by Yale University sheds light on a deeply disturbing trend: over 2,400 Ukrainian children aged 6-17 have been forcibly taken to Belarus from regions in Ukraine that are partially occupied by Russian forces. This shocking revelation raises serious concerns about the well-being and safety of these innocent children.
The study, released by the Humanitarian Research Lab of the Yale School of Public Health, highlights the systematic efforts of Russia to identify, collect, transport, and re-educate Ukrainian children, with Belarus playing a crucial role in facilitating this process. The collaboration between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko is reportedly at the heart of this distressing operation.
Rather than relying on direct quotes from the study, it is important to convey the grave significance of these findings. The research suggests that Belarus’ direct involvement in the forced deportation of Ukrainian children represents a disturbing collaboration between the two nations. Various pro-Russia and pro-regime organizations have been implicated in facilitating the deportation of these vulnerable children from Ukraine.
According to the study, between February 24, 2022, and October 30, 2023, at least 2,442 children, including those with disabilities, were taken to Belarus from the Donestk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine. It is crucial to note that these regions have been partially occupied by Russian forces. The transportation of these children involved initially taking them to Rostov-on-Don in Russia and subsequently transferring them to Belarus. The Belarusian state funded the transportation, and state organizations were complicit with the approval of Lukashenko.
Once in Belarus, the children were placed in various facilities across the country. A significant number, 2,050, were taken to the Dubrava children’s center in the Minsk region, while the remaining 392 were distributed among 13 other facilities. Shockingly, the children were subjected to re-education and military training, including interactions with Belarus’ law enforcement and security services.
This distressing situation involves several key players, including Alyaksei Talai, a prominent figure in Belarus, the state-owned potash producer Belaruskali, the Belarusian Republican Youth Union, and pro-Russia ultranationalist motorcycle clubs. These actors played a significant role in facilitating the deportation and subsequent mistreatment of Ukrainian children.
The impact of these abductions is far-reaching, as Ukrainian authorities are investigating them as possible acts of genocide. Not only are the deportations being investigated, but Belarus’ role in the forced deportations of over 19,000 children from occupied territories is also under scrutiny. The International Criminal Court has already indicted Putin and his children’s rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, for their alleged involvement in these crimes. Calls for similar indictments against Lukashenko have been made by the Belarusian opposition.
Pavel Latushka, a former Belarusian minister turned opposition leader in exile, has submitted evidence to the ICC that incriminates Lukashenko in these illegal activities. The Yale report strengthens the case for international criminal prosecution against the main individuals responsible for the unlawful transfer of Ukrainian children to Belarus. Holding these criminals accountable is crucial for justice and upholding democratic values.
The U.S. State Department, acknowledging the severity of the situation, has emphasized its commitment to pursuing accountability for those involved in the abuses connected with Russia’s war against Ukraine. This statement signals Washington’s determination to address these egregious violations of human rights and protect the well-being of innocent children caught in the crossfire of geopolitical conflicts.
Q: What regions in Ukraine were affected by the forced deportations of children to Belarus?
A: The study reveals that children from the Donestk, Luhansk, Kherson, and Zaporizhzhia regions of Ukraine were targeted by the forced deportations.
Q: How many children were taken to Belarus?
A: The study estimates that over 2,400 Ukrainian children, aged 6-17, were forcibly taken to Belarus.
Q: Were these children subjected to mistreatment?
A: Yes, the children were subjected to re-education and military training, including interactions with Belarus’ law enforcement and security services.
Q: Who was involved in facilitating the deportations?
A: Several actors played a role in facilitating the deportations, including Alyaksei Talai, Belaruskali, the Belarusian Republican Youth Union, and pro-Russia ultranationalist motorcycle clubs.
Q: Are these abductions being investigated as possible acts of genocide?
A: Ukrainian authorities are currently investigating the deportations as possible acts of genocide.
Q: What is the response of international bodies to these abductions?
A: The International Criminal Court has already indicted Russian President Vladimir Putin and his children’s rights commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, for their alleged involvement in these crimes. Belarusian opposition has called for a similar indictment against President Alexander Lukashenko.