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Happy Heritage Day!

September 22, 2023 | 0 Comments

Ukrainians, living in South Africa, have recorded videos in Afrikaans, isiXhosa and isiZulu as well as in English to join the celebration of the Heritage day. We would also like to use an opportunity to raise awareness about the forcefully deported children from Ukraine. There are about 5000 Ukrainians living in South Africa.

There is a saying: 

“If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart. 


“We love the diversity of South Africa! We feel that South African culture is very warm and welcoming, and we are so happy to learn more about this beautiful diversity” – says Kateryna Fedkina, who shared greetings in isiZulu.

The Russian Federation has actively and intentionally deported more than tens of thousands of children from Ukraine to Russia. Ukraine has identified and provided the names of 19,500 deported children to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).  Only 386 were returned to their families and caregivers in Ukraine. 

Deported children are denied the right to refuse Russian citizenship. Instead, Russian authorities can issue Russian citizenship in under 24 hours, and during this process can change a child’s name, surname and personal data such as date and place of birth. As a result, relatives have no way of finding and returning their children. 

“Taking children away from their parents and families, so that they cannot find them is something that should not be happening in the 21 century, when there are so many international agreements on children’s rights.  South Africa has one of the strongest expertise on children’s rights protection. We just hope this expertise will help to get Ukrainian children back home” – shares her pain Olga Kononenko, who shared Heritage Day greetings in Afrikaans

The recorded video for Heritage Day includes footage of Ukrainian children from a Ukrainian Sunday school learning about their culture, along with footage from other Ukrainian cultural events organized by the Ukrainian Association of South Africa. The video also features footage of Ukrainian children affected by the war, as well as videos of the few happy families who successfully reunited with their children.

Russia has seized children from their schools, and their homes – including those living in institutions, while others have been separated from their families during Russia’s so-called ‘filtration’ process. This ‘filtration’ process aims to identify individuals in the occupied territories who maintain Ukrainian identity. It involves interrogation, the collection of personal data, including mobile apps and social media posts, and may also entail acts of forced nudity, torture, ill-treatment, and forced disappearances. If any of the parents fail the ‘filtration process,’ children are forcibly separated from their families, in clear violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

While in Russian custody, [Ukrainian children are] subjected to a pro-Russian information campaign, which often involves targeted attempts at re-education and includes military education.

For more information:

+27 767355501 Kateryna (Durban)

or +27 64 619 2237 Olga (Western Cape);

[email protected]


What can be done? 

Share this information!

Please share the videos and information about deported children as widely as possible! This awareness helps to find children within Russia and Belarus. 

Support children affected by the war!

UAZA collaborates with the ‘Voices of Children’, Ukrainian-based organisation that provides psychological support to children and families. With almost 50 psychologists, Voices of Children are working 24/7. They are helping to evacuate families with children, seeking housing for them, providing them with food and clothing.


South Africans have a lot of expertise on defending Children’s Rights, please help! The Regional Center for Human Rights suggests

  1. Call on the Russian Federation to immediately repress the illegal deportation and forcible transfer of Ukrainian children to its territory or the territory under its effective control.
  2. Facilitate the investigation of the illegal deportation and forcible transfer of Ukrainian children committed in connection with the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine following a victim-centered approach.
  3. Contribute to preserving evidence and ensuring the right to the truth through independent international commissions, monitoring missions, and other mechanisms for establishing and verifying facts.
  4. To support prosecuting persons who have committed international crimes, particularly by detaining and transferring to the International Criminal Court Vladimir Putin and Maria Lvova-Belova, against whom the Pre-Trial Chamber issued arrest warrants for war crimes of illegal deportation and forcible transfer of Ukrainian children.
  5. Call on international organizations on the African continent but also the UN and its specialized agencies, the ICRC, the EU, the OSCE, and the CoE, to strengthen efforts to identify and return illegally deported and forcibly displaced children to Ukraine.
  6. To promote the adoption and implementation of the UN General Assembly Resolution on the repatriation, rehabilitation, and reintegration of Ukrainian children illegally deported and forcibly transferred in connection with the aggression of the Russian Federation against Ukraine and the return of children by concluding international agreements with the involvement of a third-party guarantor.
  7. Promote the reformation of existing international institutions to make it impossible to hinder their activities as a result of the unilateral actions of the Russian Federation, which nullify the legal foundations and goals of such institutions.
  8. Develop a legal framework to ensure fair compensation from the Russian Federation to minor victims of international crimes committed by it in Ukraine, mainly through confiscation and repurposing of frozen assets.
  9. Call on the competent national authorities to assess whether illegal deportations, and forcible transfer of children from the territory of Ukraine to the areas under the control of the Russian Federation, accompanied by Russification, militarization, and indoctrination, are crimes of genocide, considering the issue of bringing the guilty persons to justice.
  10. Cooperate with other interested States to unify the process of implementing the principle of universal jurisdiction, simplifying and increasing the comprehensibility of the procedure for victims to apply to competent authorities on the territory of foreign countries.



More information by Ukrainian civil society organisations on the forceful deportation of Ukrainian children :

  1. Zmina Report „Forcible Transfer and Deportation of Children from the Temporarily Occupied Territories of Ukraine to the Russian Federation” (April 2023): https://zmina.ua/wp-content/uploads/sites/2/2023/06/children_eng_web.pdf 
  2. Ombudsman of Ukraine Report on the Observance and Protection of Human and
  3. Civil Rights and Freedoms in Ukraine in 2022: https://ombudsman.gov.ua/childrenofwar-2023/images/documents/annual-report-2022-en.pdf


More information by SA Media on the forceful deportation of Ukrainian children: 

  1. Online Dialogue: Just Peace Dialogue “Standing up to War Crimes: Stories from Ukraine’s frontline”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q4ltSLqMOzE 
  2. Article “Russia tramples international law by abducting Ukrainian children, but South Africa can help get them home – here’s how” https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2023-06-01-russian-abduction-of-ukrainian-children-what-south-africa-can-do/