Zelenskyy meets UN High Commissioner for Refugees; calls for protection of rights of Ukrainian citizens deported to Russia

January 29, 2023 | 13:54:16

Says this is an important political signal of support for the entire Ukrainian society and for the refugees.

NEW DELHI: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy met with UN High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi who is on a visit to Ukraine.

"This is an important political signal of support for the entire Ukrainian society, for families, for internally displaced persons, for our refugees. This is very important for families who have lost their children because of deportation," Zelenskyy emphasized.

He noted the broad presence of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees headed by Filippo Grandi in the most affected regions and cities of Ukraine. He highly appreciated the humanitarian assistance to millions of Ukrainians totaling more than $1 billion that UNHCR has provided since February 24, 2022: "We appreciate UNHCR's effective assistance to the affected Ukrainians, including direct money support. This important practical assistance should be continued and strengthened."

Zelenskyy drew Filippo Grandi's special attention to the urgency of access to Ukrainian citizens deported to Russia and the protection of their rights. Separately, the topic of massive criminal deportation of Ukrainian children, including orphans and children deprived of parental care, by the aggressor state was raised.

"Our society really needs very clear answers as to whether we can together develop a mechanism for the return of our citizens. First of all, I would like to speak about children who are not able to free themselves from captivity. And I consider the change of citizenship from Ukrainian to Russian a policy of genocide and captivity," Zelenskyy emphasized.

In this regard, the President of Ukraine initiated the development of a mechanism, together with the UN, to stop the illegal transfer of Ukrainian children to Russian families and return them to their Homeland.

The interlocutors also discussed other priority areas of further cooperation between Ukraine and the UN in the humanitarian sphere, primarily relevant joint targeted reconstruction projects, preparation of housing for the return of internally displaced persons and UNHCR's involvement in the implementation of the Fast Recovery Plan.

In this context, the importance of the Memorandum of Understanding on Cooperation between UNHCR and the Ministry for Communities, Territories and Infrastructure Development of Ukraine signed by Filippo Grandi and Deputy Prime Minister for Restoration Oleksandr Kubrakov was noted, which is aimed at strengthening the coordination of relevant joint efforts.