The 31 children were taken from the northeastern region of Kharkiv and the southern region of Kherson, and were brought back to Ukraine after being rescued in what the charity called its “most difficult” mission to date.
Footage released over the weekend showed the children crossing the border on foot before boarding a bus to continue their journey. “Today we are welcoming home 31 more children who have been illegally taken by Russians from occupied territories,” said Mykola Kuleba, head of the Save Ukraine charity.
The Ukrainian government has reported that over 16,000 children have been deported to Russia since the February 2022 invasion, with many reportedly placed in institutions and foster homes. Russia has denied the allegations and claims to have saved Ukrainian children from the horrors of the war.
Last month, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s presidential commissioner for children’s rights, Maria Lvova-Belova, for unlawfully deporting Ukrainian children.