Protecting Children

epa10485971 Members of NGO Avaaz and Ukrainian refugees place kids' teddy bears and toys at Schuman Roundabout in front of European institutions in Brussels, Belgium, 23 February 2023. According to the organizers, the event was to bring to attention the reported claim of abduction of Ukrainian children by Russia. Russian troops entered Ukrainian territory on 24 February 2022, starting a conflict that has provoked destruction and a humanitarian crisis. One year on, fighting continues in many parts of the country. EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET

The International Day for Protection of Children was introduced in the year 1925 during the World Conference for the Protection of Children in Geneva. International Children’s Day (which is not the same as Universal Children’s Day), is celebrated annually on June 1.

In 1992, Armenia approved the Convention on the Rights of the Children after which in 1996, the law was passed in the Armenian Parliament. This is why this day is celebrated in almost all post-soviet countries. In the United States, Children’s Day is typically celebrated on the second Sunday in June. Canada has declared November 20th as National Child Day because the United Nations adopted the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) on November 20, 1989. The International Day for Protection of Children became universally established in 1954 to protect children’s rights, end child labour and guarantee access to education.

Rally outside the Russian embassy in Vilnius  | Photo LRT

In Lithuania on June 1, a rally was held outside the Russian embassy in Boris Nemtsov Square in Vilnius to protest the abduction of Ukrainian children. “Ukrainians are experiencing one of the largest child abduction and deportation operations in modern history, being carried out by the Putin regime. […] This includes re-education camps and forced adoptions, and it has the characteristics of genocide according to international law,” said conservative MP Laurynas Kasčiūnas, chairman of the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defence and the organizer of the rally.

“In a sense, it amounts to ethnic cleansing of the Ukrainian nation as children are abducted in this way and are being assimilated in Russia. This is what we want to draw attention to.”

Rally participants were draped in Ukrainian flags and held banners calling for an end to the war in Ukraine, prosecution of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and the abduction of Ukrainian children to be stopped.

Thousands of children have been illegally removed from Ukraine since Russia launched its large-scale invasion. The vast majority of them have been taken from occupied regions in southern and eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian Prosecutor General’s Office says some 15,000 children have been abducted and taken from the occupied territories by the Russians. About 500 more children have been killed and about 1,000 injured during the war in Ukraine, Kasčiūnas said. The International Criminal Court has issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin for illegal deportations of Ukrainian children to Russia.