On Monday, Qatar announced that it has successfully mediated an agreement to reunite four Ukrainian children with their families. These children had been relocated to Russia during Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine.
This diplomatic achievement addresses a highly sensitive aspect of the war, where numerous children have been separated from their homes. It also coincides with the filing of war crime charges against Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Qatar is optimistic that this approach can set a precedent for bringing back many other children, and the Minister for International Cooperation, Lolwah Al Khater, emphasized that these repatriations mark just the beginning. Al Khater expressed her aspiration that this initiative can contribute to reducing tensions between Moscow and Kyiv. She also stated that Qatar intends to persist in its mediation efforts in various contexts beyond this one.
The ministry clarified that it had recently united the children with their families at the Qatari embassy in Moscow and subsequently facilitated their journey to Ukraine, where they would be permanently settled. A diplomatic source with close ties to the Qatari mission in this matter hailed the operation as a “significant achievement” and a “positive gesture” on the part of Russia.
In response, the Qatari Foreign Ministry emphasized that the operation’s success underscores Qatar’s credibility with the various parties involved in the conflict and its ongoing commitment to promoting peace and stability in the region and the world.
Kyiv has accused Moscow of forcibly relocating “tens of thousands” of Ukrainian children from the occupied territories of Ukraine, describing this action as an abduction. Russia maintained that its actions were solely motivated by humanitarian concerns, contending that it had evacuated hundreds of thousands of Ukrainian children to shield them from harm. Senior Russian officials had openly dismissed the accusations when they were initially made.
The repatriation of the four children will serve as a trial for a program developed by Qatar, which conducted negotiations with Moscow and Kyiv. A diplomatic source, requesting anonymity due to the delicate nature of the process, explained that the success of this initial repatriation is expected to pave the way for additional returns.
Since the onset of Moscow’s invasion in February 2022, approximately 400 children have already been repatriated to Ukraine. However, the United Nations human rights agency expressed concerns last week that there was no established system in place to facilitate these returns.