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Russia places at least 285 Ukrainian children in orphanage

In the case of adoption, it is extremely difficult to return Ukrainians to their families.

Russia places at least 285 Ukrainian children in orphanage
Deportation of children and adults from Mariupol

Hundreds of children taken from Ukraine are "stuck" in Russia's orphanage system. The Russian authorities do not report on their fate, and Ukraine does not have complete information about them, according to an investigation by Russian journalists Verstka and Vazhnye Istorii. They found 285 profiles of children taken from Ukraine in the federal orphan database.

17-year-old Maryna (the journalists changed the girl's name, as well as the names of other children) recalls that she was taken from Ukraine on 18 February 2022. Then, on the eve of the full-scale attack, Russia announced an "evacuation" from the occupied parts of Donetsk and Luhansk Regions.

Maryna is a student of the Amvrosiyivka boarding school. She was taken to the Kursk Region. The second large group of orphans came from Donetsk. On 18 and 19 February, they were taken to the Rostov Region.

15-year-old Olena and her sister Nastya ended up in the Romashka sports and recreation centre near Taganrog. According to some reports, about 400 other children from some Donetsk institutions and from the Vuhlehirsk specialised boarding school were taken with them. 

On 20 February, the occupiers reported that they had taken 626 Ukrainian orphans to Russia. They were mostly placed in Kursk and Rostov regions. After the outbreak of full-scale war, in addition to Donetsk and Luhansk regions, Russians took children from other regions.

Groups of children from Donetsk and Luhansk Regions also arrived in Voronezh and Nizhniy Novgorod in the first weeks after the war began, but journalists did not find out details about their "evacuation".

The first profiles of the taken children appeared in the database in early October 2022, a week after the Kremlin announced an attempt to annex the occupied Regions of Ukraine. The deported Ukrainians were placed in at least 15 Russian Regions. 38 questionnaires were found in the Orel Region, 28 in the Nizhny Novgorod Region, and 27 in the Rostov Region. There were 23 children each in Saratov and Bashkortostan, 22 in Bryansk, and 20 in Kirov. But these are not all Ukrainian children. The total number of Ukrainian children in orphanages may be higher: in 2022, the number of orphans in Russia's database increased, and by the summer of 2023, there were 2,400 more profiles than the average for the previous six years. But it is not known whether all these children have been taken from Ukraine. 

Russians can adopt children or take them under temporary guardianship. In the case of adoption, it is extremely difficult to return Ukrainians to their families. Currently, at least 187 Ukrainian children remain in the database. 

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