Belarus accused of illegally transferring Ukrainian children across border

Belarus state television is reporting that authorities sent a recently arrived group of Ukrainian children from occupied Ukraine to train with the Belarusian military to learn how to evacuate in the event of a fire.

Ukraine and the Belarusian opposition allege that Russian ally Belarus is engaging in the illegal transfer of Ukrainian children to Belarus on a mass scale, which critics say is a campaign to indoctrinate the children as pro-Russian.

The report, released on Wednesday, referred to some 35 children from the Russian-occupied Ukrainian town of Antratsyt in eastern Ukraine.

It’s been claimed that they were sent to the eastern Belarusian city of Mogilev.

The Belarus1 state television channel said the children are being housed in a sanatorium and are being cared for by employees from the Ministry of Emergency Situations. The military is “teaching the children how to behave in extreme situations,” the state television channel reported.

More than 2,400 Ukrainian children aged 6 to 17 have been brought to Belarus from four Ukrainian regions partially occupied by Russian troops, a recent Yale University study found.

The Belarusian opposition has called on the International Criminal Court to bring Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko and officials in his government to justice for their involvement in the illegal transfer of Ukrainian children to Belarus.

State television footage released on Wednesday showed the Ukrainian children wearing the Russian flag sewn onto their sleeves. The state television program said the Belarusian military is conducting “emergency survival training” for the children.

Ukrainian authorities said they are investigating the deportation of the children as a possible genocide. The Prosecutor General of Ukraine has said Belarus is also being investigated over the alleged forced deportation of more than 19,000 children from occupied Ukrainian territories.

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