Sixteen girls and 14 boys aged three to 15 were brought from Baghdad on a special aircraft of the Emergencies Ministry carrying medical equipment and rescue workers, doctors of the All-Russian Centre of Emergency Medical Care Zashchita, psychologists of the Centre for Emergency Psychological Aid and personnel of the Commissioner’s office. Doctors conducted a preliminary medical examination on board the aircraft and provided all necessary assistance to the children.
After landing at Zhukovsky Airport in the Moscow suburbs, the children were taken to the Children’s Health Medical Research Centre, where they were reunited with their relatives for the first time. The children stayed in patient rooms together with their guardians, and were examined and prescribed treatment, including any medication needed. Staff of the Commissioner’s office helped the adults to file all the necessary paperwork.
On January 5, 2019 all the children brought back from Iraq were released from the medical centre. Accompanied by their relatives and guardians, 23 children went to Daghestan, five to the Chechen Republic, one to Kabardino-Balkaria and one to Tatarstan. Doctors are monitoring the children’s health at their places of residence.
The flight home was the result of the hard work of the relevant ministries: the Foreign Ministry, the Emergencies Ministry, the Healthcare Ministry and the Ministry of Education. An interdepartmental commission on facilitating the return of children from conflict zones was established at the Commissioner’s Office in September 2017. Since that time a data base was created listing 699 children taken by their parents to the Middle East.
In August 2018, in cooperation with the Foreign Ministry, commissioners for children’s rights in the regions began work to prepare the documents necessary for bringing the children of mothers imprisoned in Baghdad back to Russia. According to the Foreign Ministry, there are 115 children under the age of ten, and eight between the ages of 11 and 17. Their relatives live in 16 Russian regions.
Experts of the Healthcare Ministry’s Centre of Forensic Medical Expertise conducted DNA kinship testing to confirm biological relationship between the minors and Russian citizens. Documents on children born in the Russian Federation and applications from women in Iraq requesting that interim custody over their children be granted to their relatives until the return of children’s parents to Russia were transferred to the Russian Embassy in Iraq. The Russian Foreign Ministry contacted the Iraqi authorities, including judicial bodies, to process the documents for the children’s return to Russia.
In November 2018, Ms Kuznetsova prepared a special report to the President on measures to return and reacclimate children from conflict zones. Following the review of the report, special instructions were given to the Russian Government.
During her working visit to Baghdad, Ms Kuznetsova met with the Prime Minister of Iraq and the Chairman of the Supreme Judicial Council of Iraq. She thanked the Iraqi Government for its understanding and help in rescuing and returning the children to Russia to be reunited with relatives, especially noting the work of the foreign policy departments, and thanked the staff of the Iraqi Embassy in Russia.
Work to secure the return of Russian children continues, with the Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights coordinating the efforts of the interdepartmental working group.