At least 14 orphans forcedly relocated to Crimea from Kherson during Russian occupation

27 January, 04:32 PM
Orphaned children from Kherson were taken to Crimea (Photo:Будинок дитини Ялинка)

Orphaned children from Kherson were taken to Crimea (Photo:Будинок дитини Ялинка)

At least 14 orphan children were forcedly relocated by Russians from the then-occupied city of Kherson to the Yalynka orphanage in the occupied city of Simferopol, Crimea, Russian independent outlet Verstka reported on Jan. 26.

Their whereabouts was established thanks to photos taken amid a Russian New Year charity campaign conducted for orphan children from the occupied areas of Ukraine. The photos in which there were orphans aged from two to five were accompanied by letters to Father Frost, the Russian version of Santa Claus. The letters gave little information about the children and were written with the same handwriting on their behalf.

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The so-called “Commissioner” for Children’s Rights in Crimea, Irina Klyueva, reported back in October 2022 that Yalynka hosted children allegedly "evacuated" from the then-occupied Kherson. Notorious Russian collaborator Kyrylo Stremousov noted the same month that 46 orphan children had been relocated to Crimea. The Russian occupation of Kherson lasted from March 3 to Nov. 11, 2022. Stremousov was reportedly killed in a car accident on Nov. 9, 2022, the day when an order issued by the Russian Defense Minister to retreat from Kherson was made public.

The Yalynka orphanage works with children who have behavioral and mental disorders, hearing and vision impairments, and HIV. The facility had orders from the  Russians to cultivate “patriotism and civic consciousness” in the children, as well as the idea that “Crimea is located in the south of Russia.”

The orphanage was already involved in a scandal in 2020 due to poor childcare. Several foster families said that they had taken children with an extreme degree of exhaustion, because the children had been malnourished.

The institution was dubbed a children's concentration camp, and the conditions there were compared to those of Auschwitz, a German Nazi concentration camp during the Second World War. Children adopted from the orphanage were afraid of going to the bathroom, bathing, and had muscle-related problems, as well as other ailments.

Following a public outcry, the Russian-installed “authorities” of Crimea conducted an inspection, but the investigation that was launched is still ongoing.

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