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With the assistance of Maria Lvova-Belova, 56 Russian children returned home from Syria

March 12, 2023

Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights Maria Lvova-Belova facilitated the return to Russia of 56 children who stayed at refugee camps in the Trans-Euphrates region and a shelter in Damascus. In addition, as part of the Into the Hands of Children campaign, she handed over 450 kilogrammes of humanitarian cargo for families with children affected by the recent earthquake.

On March 10–12, the Commissioner for Children's Rights paid a working visit to the Syrian Arab Republic. In Damascus, Maria Lvova-Belova handed over to the Syrian side 450 kilogrammes of humanitarian cargo for families with children affected by the recent earthquake. Also, the orphanage was given gifts – children's backpacks filled with school supplies and toys.

With the assistance of the Commissioner, 56 Russian children made it back home. This is the largest group ever on the humanitarian mission’s record. Of them, 49 children were at a refugee camps in the Trans-Euphrates region and seven more at a shelter in Damascus. The children are aged from three to 17 years.

A Russian Aerospace Forces plane brought the children to Moscow's Sheremetyevo Airport on March 12. During the flight, the children were accompanied by doctors, psychologists and staff from the office of the Presidential Commissioner for Children's Rights. Doctors examined the children during the flight: their condition did not cause any concern. Upon arrival in Moscow, the children were taken to a leading federal medical centre. After the medical examination, the children will spend a few more weeks in a Moscow-based social rehabilitation centre, where medical specialists will assess their psychological condition, conduct initial rehabilitation and help families build rapport with the children. This is the first time the Moscow Government is providing this kind of support.

After that, the children will be released to relatives and travel to 16 regions. Regional commissioners for children's rights will assist these families in all matters, including medical assistance, rehabilitation and recreation, as well as placement with educational institutions and receiving social payments and benefits. If necessary, they will provide legal support to children.

The humanitarian mission – the repatriation of Russian children from military conflict zones – has been carried out on behalf of the President since 2018. This work was made possible through the concerted efforts of the Foreign Ministry, the Defence Ministry and the Healthcare Ministry, as well as through cooperation with the Syrian authorities and the Kurdish side. The Commissioner for Children's Rights is coordinating the activities of a dedicated interagency commission on facilitating the efforts to bring children home.

Since December 2018, the Commissioner has facilitated the return of 479 children to Russia from the areas of hostilities in the Middle East: 122 from Iraq, 348 from Syria, eight from Pakistan, and one from Turkiye. All children are placed under guardianship with families of their close relatives. Last year, four homebound flights from Syria brought home 69 children.

Maria Lvova-Belova noted that during talks with the Kurdish leaders, an agreement was reached to bring home another 200 Russian children in several groups. The Commissioner’s office has received over 1,000 applications from relatives whose children and grandchildren are stranded in the Middle East.

March 12, 2023