Ukraine Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal told journalists on Thursday that he has asked Pope Francis for help getting back children forcibly deported to Russia. Source: CNA.
Mr Shmyhal met Pope Francis in a private, 30-minute encounter at the Vatican yesterday.
According to the Associated Press, Mr Shmyhal later briefed reporters on the papal meeting, sharing that he had asked the Pope for his help retrieving the abducted children. He said he also invited Francis to visit Ukraine.
“I asked His Holiness to help us return home Ukrainians, Ukrainian children who are detained, arrested, and criminally deported to Russia,” Mr Shmyhal said, according to AP.
Reuters reported that the Ukrainian government estimates that almost 19,500 children have been taken to Russia or Russian-occupied Crimea since Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February last year.
Russia denies abducting children, claiming they were taken away for their own safety.
Earlier in April, more than 30 Ukrainian children were reunited with their families following a mission that involved travelling from Ukraine to Crimea via Poland, Belarus, and Moscow for some Ukrainian parents.
The Vatican said yesterday that Mr Shmyhal also met with Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Foreign Minister Archbishop Richard Gallagher.
The conversation in the Secretariat of State touched on the war in Ukraine, especially humanitarian issues and efforts to restore peace, the Vatican’s brief communication said.
The life and activity of the Church in the midst of the war in Ukraine was also discussed.
Ukraine’s prime minister asks Pope Francis to help bring back children taken to Russia (By Hannah Brockhaus, CNA)
Pope meets Ukrainian prime minister at Vatican (CNS via OSV News)