Ukraine launches a mobile application to search for children missing in the war

Ukrainian police announced the launch of a mobile app on Thursday to help find children who disappeared during Russia’s sweeping invasion that began more than 13 months ago.

Kiev estimates that 19,544 children were deported to Russia during the invasion, of whom only 328 returned. Moscow, which controls parts of eastern and southern Ukraine, denies kidnapping the children and says they were taken for their safety.

Oleksandr Vatsevich, Deputy Chief of the National Police, said that Ukraine has partnered with the American technology company (Find My Parent) to develop the application (Reunite Ukraine) that would help restore communication between family members separated during the conflict. .

“It is one of the tools to find children and reunite them with their families,” he told an online news briefing.

“If we find even one child in this way or reunite one family, it will really be a victory, even if it is a small one, but with every step we will be able to return children to their homes,” he added.

Last month, the International Criminal Court issued an arrest warrant for Russian President Vladimir Putin and Russia’s Commissioner for Children’s Rights for kidnapping children from Ukraine.

Moscow did not hide a program under which it brought thousands of Ukrainian children to Russia from the occupied regions, but it presents it as a humanitarian campaign to protect orphans and children left alone in the conflict zone.

Children’s Commissioner Maria Lvova-Bilova said this week that Russia had accepted more than five million refugees from Ukraine’s Donbass region, including 730,000 children with parents or legal guardians, since February 2022.

Russia does not recognize the authority of the ICC, and has described the arrest warrant as null and unfounded.

Vatsevich said the app is free to download and easy to operate.

He added that the app would enable the police to collect more data in a safe and proper way, including from people in Russia, Belarus or in occupied territories who want to help Ukrainian children.

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