A few days before the Kharkiv region was liberated, Ukrainian families sent around 200 children to a Russian holiday camp. Now they wait in vain for their return. There has been no contact for days. “I want my child back,” says one mother.
For months, Ukrainians in the Kharkiv region suffered under Russian occupation. At the end of August, the parents of around 200 children decided to send their children to a summer camp in Russia. A little distraction from the war.
A few days later, the Ukrainian army recaptured many villages in the region. For example Izyum. The residents are happy. But her children – they haven’t returned yet. And many no longer have contact with them.
As The Washington Post reports, buses picked up the children on August 27 and took them to the other side of the front line, across the Russian border. Russian propaganda had advertised the camp. Many parents thought it was a good idea. Their children had suffered from hunger, slept in cellars, had been surprised by bombs. They just wanted a little bit of normalcy.
Now the parents say: “I only have one thing on my mind: get my child back,” the Washington Post quoted a mother as saying. “I haven’t spoken to my 12-year-old son for ten days.” Another mother reports that her 15-year-old son initially felt comfortable in the camp. During the last phone call, however, he said: “I shouldn’t have driven.”
The children had always returned from two similar camps before the reconquest. So it doesn’t appear to be a fundamental way of getting Ukrainian children across the border and forcing them to settle in Russia – as happened with many families from the conquered territories.
But the children from Izjum, they were supposed to return a week ago. Volodymr Matsokyn, deputy mayor of Izyum, told the Washington Post that they have a full list of all affected children and are “working on this issue right now.” “We will definitely bring the children back, whatever the cost.” 80 of the children are from his town alone.