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Activists Map Deported Ukrainian Children in Russia

A Ukrainian girl holds a bouquet of flowers in the colors of the Ukrainian flag. Andreea Alexandru / AP / TASS

A group of activists said it has mapped more than 250 locations inside Russia where Ukrainian children have been forcibly transferred since the start of Moscow's full-scale invasion.

Kyiv says more than 16,000 Ukrainian children have been deported to Russia since its February 2022 invasion, with many believed to have been placed in institutions and foster homes.

“We believe getting the children back is more than real if we all work together as a community,” the Kidmapping project said on its Instagram page Tuesday.

“The more transparent the situation with the children, their location and conditions for their return, the sooner they will return home.”

The project’s map lists 1,387 locations — with physical and email addresses as well as phone numbers — across Russia’s 11 time zones where the deported Ukrainian children could likely be found. 

Almost half of those locations are in southwestern Russia near the border with Ukraine.

Kidmapping said it gathered the data from Russian news reports, social media networks and official state organizations that chronicle the children’s movements.

Propaganda actively uses children, so you can often find information in the news or on [blogging platform] Yandex.Dzen or [social network] VKontakte,” Kidmapping said on its website.

Beyond the open-source information, “we cannot provide detailed information about our sources because the war is ongoing, as are the deportations,” a project volunteer who wished to remain anonymous told The Moscow Times.

Kidmapping said it works in partnership with the Latvia-based rights group Every Human Being, which was founded in the wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to provide legal aid and search for missing people.

The project is also supported by the exiled independent news site Novaya Gazeta Europe and the capacity-building initiative Teplitsa Sotsialnykh Tekhnologyi (Technologies for Social Good).

“Our project focuses on locating places, but humanitarian organizations are involved in the process of repatriation, and we are ready to assist with our data upon request,” the Kidmapping project volunteer said.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) in March issued an arrest warrant for President Vladimir Putin and his children’s rights commissioner over the “unlawful deportation” of Ukrainian children.

A UN investigation has determined that Russia’s forced transfer and deportation of Ukrainian children to Russian-controlled areas amounts to a war crime.

The project volunteer from Kidmapping said the team is ready to work with international organizations to establish a functional and transparent mechanism that is necessary for addressing the issue of children or civilian hostages in general.

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