WASHINGTON, D.C. - Ukrainian officials estimate 19-thousand Ukrainian kids have been forcibly separated from their families by Russia. In total, more than 300 have been reunited according to the Ukrainian government. We spoke with SOS Children’s Village on this issue and how they’re helping reunite kids. 

“It’s a crime,” said Darya Kasyanova, the national program director for SOS Children’s Villages Ukraine. “It’s a terrible crime against our children.” 

SOS Children’s Villages is an international organization that helps with different types of social services and support for families and kids. When Russia invaded Ukraine, they took on a different role. They are now working to reunite kids that were forcibly separated from their families by the Russians.  

“And in the first month of whole invasion their parents or other biological family connected with us and informed about separation with their children,” said Kasyanova. “These children stayed in occupied Mariupol for example or in Luhansk or in region and we tried to think how we can reunite these children with their parents.” 

Ukrainian officials estimate more than 19,000 kids have been deported to Russia or in so-called “filtration camps” in occupied parts of Ukraine. Along with other organizations, S S Children’s Villages have so far helped reunite 143 children.”  

“It is not huge number of children we understand it but every reunification of child is dangerous and difficult task for our team and to reunite the child with their parents is only the first part of our work,” said Kasyanova.  

Kasyanova said once the kids are back with their families, SOS Children’s Villages will also give them psychological, social, medical and educational help. And the kids that return to their families also help these organizations by giving them info on others being held by Russia.  

“After reunification we find out about other children,” said Kasyanova. “A couple of days ago we reunited two girls from occupied territory and from them we knew about other children who are waiting for their parents in occupied territories.” 

Kasyanova said their goal is for all children be returned to their families.  

“Unfortunately, this trauma will be with them for a long, long time,” said Kasyanova.