Children of War

24 February 2022 - 22 June 2024
Children of War / Children’s Stories


CHILDREN'S STORIES

In this section, you will find the stories of children affected by the full-scale war. Those injured or killed. Those kidnapped or detained by the russian military and representatives of the occupational authorities. This section also includes materials on the successful return of children and their reunification with relatives after illegal deportation to russia or belarus, or after forced relocation to temporarily occupied territory of Ukraine.



Dear media representatives!

All interviews with children affected by the war were carefully prepared for. They were conducted under the guidance of a child psychologist and by a team of professionals with maximum consideration of the child's interests.

You may use all materials in whole or in part for publication in your media outlets or to produce your own informational products. After all, these materials were created specifically to limit the victims' communication about their traumatic experience, to avoid repetitive interviews and thus protect the children and their relatives from re-traumatization.

The use of any photo, video or text materials from the "Children's Stories" section is allowed under the following mandatory condition: must include reference to "THE CHILDREN OF WAR" State Portal for Missing and Displaced Children https://childrenofwar.gov.ua 
 

Echoes of Atrocity: A WAR-TORN Childhood"Echoes of Atrocity: A WAR-TORN Childhood" is a compelling documentary revealing russia's war crimes against innocent Ukrainian children, produced by the Presidential Advisor-Commissioner on Child's Rights and Rehabilitation in partnership with the Canada-funded SURGe Project. Through powerful storytelling, it exposes the unspeakable trauma inflicted on these young lives, shedding light on the shocking disregard for rules and moral boundaries in the relentless russian aggression unfolding in Europe. The film aims to hold russia accountable and garner international support for the rescue and rehabilitation of children affected by russian war against Ukraine. According to the “CHILDREN OF WAR” state portal, as of October 2023: 1,136 children were injured as a result of russian war against Ukraine, 29 children suffered amputations of upper, lower, or both types of limbs as a result of injuries, 508 children have lost their lives as a direct result of russia's military actions on Ukrainian soil.
Illia, 11 years old, MariupolIllia is a child who experienced a lot of pain in his short life. When his hometown of Mariupol was mercilessly shelled by the russians, his mother died from the debris, and the boy received many shrapnel wounds. The occupiers took him to a hospital in Donetsk, where he suffered even more physical and emotional pain. The operation to remove the fragment from his leg was performed without anesthesia. Adults mocked, saying that now the child should not say "Glory to Ukraine" but "Glory to Ukraine as part of russia" and forced him to write in russian. But, despite his young age, the boy bravely endured all these abuses. Thanks to a large team of governmental and non-governmental structures and organizations, in close cooperation with the boy's grandmother Olena, Illia managed to be returned from deportation. Currently, the boy is undergoing rehabilitation and dreams of becoming a doctor "to be the same as our boys on the front lines, combat medics and ordinary ones - they are real heroes."
Sasha, 7 years old, OdesaSeven-year Sasha is one of more than thousands of children who were severely wounded as a result of military actions of russia  in the territory of Ukraine. The enemy  missile hit the house where the girl lived together  with her  parents. She was taken to the local hospital  with  numerous  injuries,  but the doctor's prognosis wasn't  good- they had to amputate the lower limb. Then there were seven long months of recovery, 2 leg prostheses and a lot of pain and tears. Despite all these terrible injuries, she goes on doing gymnastics,which is her favorite activity she likes the best. However, her mother confeses that now her life is a constant struggle, which is hidden from a camera and awards.
“Abducted Childhood” DocumentaryThis is a scientific and psychological study of the Ukrainian independent media team online.ua of the situation of forced deportation and abduction of Ukrainian children by the russian federation from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine. The project tells the real stories of children and their families affected by russia's war against Ukraine, contains comments from scientists, psychologists, lawyers and leading experts in the protection of children's rights. The project documents evidence of russian war crimes against Ukrainians. Use of the film by prior agreement with the authors.
 
Andrii, Brovary

Back in the first days of the full-scale invasion, he and his parents left Brovary for Chernihivska oblast. On the way, they met a column of Russian tanks. One of the armored personnel carriers crushed the car with the boy's entire family. When the occupants heard that the boy was alive, they pulled him out of the car and left on the side of the road. They shot in front of his eyes into the car's gas tank. Andrii is sure that his mother was alive in the car, because he did not see any wounds on her face or body. Unfortunately, the boy still cannot realize that his parents were killed. Now Andrii lives in Brovary with his older sister, who has taken custody of her brother.

Bohdan, 8 years old, Bakhmut

Нis parents were killed by an enemy shell right on the street. The boy's mother was seven months pregnant. Bohdan was staying with a neighbor at the time, and when everyone fell asleep, he took his bike at night and went to the scene of that terrible event to see his parents. His little heart refused to believe that his mom and dad were gone.
Тhe bodies of his parents remained lying in the street for several days. Because of the constant shelling, it was not possible to bury them immediately. 
 Law enforcement officers rescued Bohdan. They came to the boy, gathered his belongings, evacuated him from the hot spot, fed and entertained him. The boy was scared and desperate after hearing the news of his parents' death.

Dima and Anya, 12 years old, Chernihiv RegionDima and Anya from the Yahidne village, Chernihivska oblast, are friends and neighbors. They were among the 380 people who were rounded up by the occupiers and kept in the basement. "Yahidne is a small village, there are five streets and everyone knows each other," says Anya. "There were only three kids in my class," adds Dima. The Russians set up headquarters in the local school, and all the villagers were rounded up into the basement. 380 people spent 28 days in the cramped basement without the ability to move freely. "They were having fun when they shot at us and we were scared." Instead of a restroom, there was one bucket for everyone. A list of people who died of suffocation or were shot was written on the wall. Dima's mother went up to the Russians and asked them to give her a piece of bread or shoot her. It was unbearable to watch her children starve. Now Anya and Dima are learning to fight their fears and to dream. Dima wants to become a photographer, and Anya wants to be a soldier.
Marharyta, Mariupol"I talk to my dad through the window. He can hear me, right?" Margo from Mariupol lost almost all of her loved ones at once: her father, brother, two grandmothers, uncle, and godparents. Of the 12 people who were in the private house that was hit by the shell, only three survived. "I was in shock but didn't cry." Marharyta has undergone rehabilitation, knows what calms her down, talks to psychologists like an adult and dreams of being a detective. She recalls the Veselka Park in Mariupol, where she always had fun. She recalls how her grandmother taught her to read. And although neither her hometown nor her family can wrap Margo in their arms, she wishes other Ukrainian children to be happy and continue to live.
Savelii, 10 years old, IrpinSavelii is 10 years old. A year ago, he lost his father in the war, who volunteered to defend his hometown. Savelii's uncle and brother went to the front together with his father. "My mom and I were hiding in the garage and watching the rockets fly from Bucha to Irpin, from Irpin to Bucha." One day, Savelii and his mother received a call from his brother. "He said: "I'm wounded, uncle is wounded, but father...". I realized that my father was dead." Savelii's father's body could not be taken away for 10 days because of the heavy fighting. "As a child, I wanted to be a dentist, a doctor. And now, after my father died, I decided to become a soldier." We can't change the past of these children, but our future belongs to them.
Re-education of Children in Camps (Occupied Crimea)The Russians took the children out of Kherson under the guise of rehabilitation. They forced parents to send their children to the camp, promising a trip for only 2 weeks. Dozens of buses headed to the occupied Crimea. According to the witnesses, there were thousands of children in only three camps: "Mriya [Dream]," "Druzhba [Friendship]" and "Promenystyi [Radiant]." In September-October 2022, Vitaliy, Zhenia, Taya, Dayana and the other two girls, who asked not to be named, came for the so-called rehabilitation. They say they were mocked in the camp and humiliated based on their nationality. The Russians locked children who expressed a pro-Ukrainian position in a basement or an isolation cell. They forbid children to speak Ukrainian, and instead, forced them to listen to the Russian national anthem, learn Russian patriotic songs, and work. For at least six months, they lied to children that their parents had allegedly abandoned them and, in general, that Ukraine no longer needed them. The number of abducted children remaining on the occupied peninsula is currently unknown.
Vitaliy, 14 years old, Kherson Region14-year-old Vitaliy and his 27-year-old uncle, Oleksiy, were captured in September 2022 when they went for a walk in their native village of Kyselivka, Kherson Region. The Russians met them on their way. First, they beat Vitaliy and Oleksiy andremoved their shoes so that they could not run away; then threw them into a pit with intestines, threatened to throw a grenade into it, bury them in it, shoot them dead while all the time humiliating both the teenager and the adult man. In an FSB torture prison, the relatives were separated and both interrogated without being given any food. Vitaliy was placed into a small, cold shower room in the basement, where more than ten other detained Ukrainians were held. The boy saw and heard how the Russians abused other men. They returned back from the torture cell half alive and covered in blood. They were terribly thin, when his parents saw Vitaliy and his uncle after their release 27-year-old uncle Oleksiy returned home gray-haired.
Vladyslav, 16 years old, Melitopol

Vlad was in captivity for 90 days, from April to July 2022. The boy was detained during the evacuation of civilians along the so-called "humanitarian corridor" from Melitopol to Zaporizhzhia. The Russians put him in solitary confinement and forced him to clean a torture cell soaked in blood. During the entire detention period, only one cellmate, a 24-year-old young man, was placed with Vlad. A few days later, after the man was severely tortured, he decided to commit suicide and cut his veins. In this situation, Vlad had to put up emotionally with the suicide he'd almost seen and help the Ukrainian calm down, as if he was helping him depart this life. According to Vlad, when the first month of detention had passed, his hope of making it out alive broke. At the time of capture, the boy was only 16 years old.

Oleksandr, 12 years old, MariupolThe russians captured 12-year-old Oleksandr (known as Sashko) and his mother, Snizhana, in Mariupol in March 2022. They separated them in a filtration camp, not allowing them to say goodbye to each other. Sashko was sent to the hospital with an eye injury. Later, they said, they would place him in an orphanage until a russian foster family adopted him. However, thanks to the boy's courage, his grandmother Lyudmyla's efforts, and the coordinated work of a large team of governmental and non-governmental organizations and services, he was returned to territory controlled by Ukraine.
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