We are extremely concerned by reports that thousands of Ukrainian children are being forcibly deported to Russia to be fostered or adopted without appropriate processes, separating them from their families and communities.
Adoption is not an appropriate response for unaccompanied or separated children, who cannot be assumed to be orphans. Many of those who have been targeted were formerly living in institutions – 92% of whom have a living parent. Children must be reunited with their families where possible, and if they must be moved they should stay close to home with a clear plan of return, and be accompanied by an appropriate caregiver. These alarming reports are painting a dark picture of these protocols not only being disregarded by Russia, but of this violation of child rights being reframed as humanitarian action.
This is not child protection. Forced deportation and adoption or fostering threaten the safety, wellbeing and sense of identity of a child. It is absolutely crucial that proper standards for conflict-displaced children are followed in order to protect the current and future wellbeing of these children. It is of the utmost importance that international efforts focus on bringing the current harmful practices to light, enforcing measures to ensure international laws and proper child protection approaches are followed, and safeguarding and reunifying with their families the children who have been targeted by this incredibly damaging scheme.
Peter McDermott, CEO, Lumos