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Russia releases five children out of thousands to Ukraine after mediation from Qatar | World News

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Russia has returned five Ukrainian children to Kyiv with thousands still believed to be held by Moscow.

A report from Russian news agency TASS said that six children were reunited with their families after mediation at the Qatari embassy in Moscow.

Five of the children were sent to Ukraine, and one was returned to relatives in Russia, the outlet reported.

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Russian children’s rights commissioner Maria Lvova-Belova said on Thursday: “In total, 64 children have already returned to Ukraine, six have [been] reunited with relatives in Russia.”

A 7-year-old Ukrainian boy, who is the first child released under a new mechanism Qatar has set up with the goal of repatriating children from Russia to Ukraine, is seated next to his grandmother (L) and Russia's Commissioner for Children's Rights, Maria Lvova-Belova after being released to Qatari diplomats
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A seven-year-old Ukrainian boy, who was the first child released from Russia under a mechanism set up by Qatar, in October 2023. Pic: Reuters

But, according to an estimate from the Ukrainian government, there are nearly 30,000 children who have been forcibly removed or deported from their homes.

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In July last year, Ms Lvova-Belova claimed that 700,000 Ukrainian children had been brought to Russia for humanitarian reasons.

On 17 March 2023, the International Criminal Court issued arrest warrants for Vladimir Putin and Ms Lvova-Belova for the forced deportations of more than 16,000 Ukrainian children to Russia.

Maria Lvova-Belova. Pic: AP
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Maria Lvova-Belova claimed on Thursday that “64 children have already returned to Ukraine”. Pic: AP

It comes after Russia said it would evacuate 9,000 children from the Belgorod region as Ukraine continues to shell the area.

Read more from Sky News:
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Belgorod’s governor Vyacheslav Gladkov said that some schools near the border with Ukraine will close early before the school holidays as a result of the attacks.

On Wednesday, Putin promised to provide support for Belgorod civilians who have lost their homes and businesses.

“There is a lot to do and we will do everything which depends on us,” he said at a televised meeting at the Kremlin.

“Of course, the primary task is to ensure safety. There are different ways to do this. They are not easy, but we will do it.”

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