Canada and Ukraine provide update on International Coalition for the Return of Ukrainian Children

News release

March 18, 2024 - Ottawa, Ontario - Global Affairs Canada

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs, and Andriy Yermak, Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine, today provided an update on the work of the International Coalition for the Return of Ukrainian Children.

Launched in Kyiv, Ukraine, on February 2, 2024, the coalition is a joint initiative by Ukraine and Canada to coordinate efforts and cooperation between Canada, Ukraine and partner states to address the unlawful deportation and forced transfer of Ukrainian children by Russia. As of today, 33 countries have become active members of the coalition and will combine their efforts to reunite Ukrainian children with their families and ensure their safe reintegration into families and communities.

Since the launch of the coalition, Canada has engaged with many international partners in bilateral and multilateral forums to raise awareness of, and advocate on, this issue, which has been ongoing since Russia first invaded Ukraine in 2014 and has come to light following the launch of Russia’s full-scale war of aggression against Ukraine in 2022.

As an example of ongoing cooperation between Canada and Ukraine in relation to the coalition, a working group of Canadian consular and emergency response officials recently completed a scoping mission in Kyiv, where they met with Ukrainian officials and representatives of non-governmental organizations, international organizations and like-minded missions to better understand the complexities and potential challenges surrounding the forced transfer of Ukrainian children by Russia, as well as to identify partners, needs, gaps and potential areas of assistance. These efforts will help inform Canada’s work to bolster capacity building and provide technical assistance to the Ukrainian government, in cooperation with the members of the coalition.

Canada and Ukraine, along with the members of the coalition, will continue to coordinate efforts to facilitate the return of Ukrainian children and to ensure the protection of their rights and freedoms.


“We began this initiative as children should never be pawns for military and political purposes. The International Coalition for the Return of Ukrainian Children is also an important component of President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s Peace Formula. I am thrilled to see that the work of the coalition is making good progress, and that we can now count on a growing number of international partners to facilitate the return of those unlawfully deported and forcibly transferred Ukrainian children to their families. We will continue to actively be engaged by raising global awareness, advocating, and putting public pressure for their return.”

- Mélanie Joly, Minister of Foreign Affairs

“The safe return of the abducted Ukrainian children demands a united international effort. Ukraine is grateful to Canada for initiating the creation of the Coalition during the meeting of national security and foreign policy advisors in Malta, convened to discuss President Volodymyr Zelenskyy's Peace Formula. Within just a few months, witnessing the dedication of 33 states to work collectively assures us of our ability to succeed in bringing the children back.”

- Andriy Yermak, Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine

Quick facts

  • Experts estimate that since Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, thousands of Ukrainian children have been deported, forcibly transferred or otherwise displaced from the territory of Ukraine to the temporarily occupied territories and to Russia to erase their identity. Currently, fewer than 400 children have been returned to Ukraine and reunited with their families.

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