April 15, 2024

Belarusian state media announced on Sept. 19 that 48 children from Russian-occupied Ukraine have arrived in Belarus. The arrival was described as participation in a “holiday,” and children will reportedly be hosted in the city of Novopolotsk.

The children were removed from Ukraine by a Belarusian charity led by Alexei Talai, who told Beta that “all the Belarusian people” want to help “children from dilapidated cities and towns in the new territories of Russia.”

It is unclear if the children are orphans or were transported to Belarus with the consent of their parents. Belarus has denied in the past that it was accepting children taken illegally from Ukraine, though Belarusian opposition figures have reportedly provided the International Criminal Court (ICC) with evidence to the contrary.

The ICC issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russian Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights Maria Lvova-Belova for the illegal removal of children from parts of Ukraine occupied by Russian forces. In July Lvova-Belova claimed 700,000 Ukrainian children had been brought to Russia since the start of the full-scale invasion.

Belarus is Russia’s closest ally and allows Moscow to keep troops and equipment, including nuclear weapons, in the country.

Read also: Ukraine war latest: Ukrainian advances point to ‘severe degradation’ of Russian units, says ISW

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