UN accuses Russia of breaking child protection rules

The head of the United Nations’ refugee agen­cy has accused Moscow of violating “fundamental” child protection principles by giving Russian passports to unaccompanied child refugees.

Filippo Grandi added that Russia had then been putting these children up for adoption by Russian families.

He said the UNHCR would try to get access to those af­fected and try to find solutions in their best interest.

However, Mr Grandi ad­mitted he did not know how many children were affected.

“In the situation of war, you cannot determine if children have families or guardianship. And therefore, until that is clarified, you cannot give them another nationality or having them adopted by another family,” Mr Grandi said.

According to the most recent UNHCR data, nearly three million refugees from Ukraine have been recorded in Russia – more than in any other European country. It is unclear how many of these are children.

A Ukrainian presidential ad­viser said earlier this month al­most 14,000 children had been “deported” to Russia from occupied parts of Ukraine, and accused it of kidnapping them. The Kremlin has denied the allegations.

Mr Grandi has said the UNHCR was s seeking access to Russia “all the time” but that so far this has been “rare, sporadic and not unfettered”.

His comments come after the United Nations’ top rights official expressed concern in July that Ukrainian children had been taken from orphan­ages in the eastern Donbas region and “forcibly deported” to Russia.

There was also concern Moscow was “modifying ex­isting legislation” to fast-track this process. —BBC

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