Moscow has rejected accusations that refugees have been forcibly sent to Russia to use them as hostages in order to pressure Ukraine to capitulate.
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Along these lines, Russian Commissioner for Human Rights Tatyana Moskalkova said that there has never been any forcible transfer of refugees to Russia, noting that those accusations "are all lies."
Moskalkova said that since the beginning of the military conflict, more than 500 000 civilians from the Donbass region and Ukraine have voluntarily moved to Russia. The official said that she personally had had talks with refugees, who said they wanted to seek asylum on Russian territory.
All refugees are given the necessary food, clothing and medicine, the Russian commissioner said, calling on officials of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI) to visit interim accommodation facilities in Russia to see for themselves the welfare of the refugees.
Referring to the visit of Karim Atassi, acting head of the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Russia, to a center for temporary housing in the Russian city of Rostov near the Donetsk People's Republic, Moskalkova said Atassi gave highly positive feedback on the efforts made by Russia regarding refugee assistance.
For her part, the Ukrainian ombudsman for human rights, Lyudmila Denisova, has called on international organizations such as UNICEF, claiming that more than 121 000 children, among them orphans and children with parents, have been taken by force to Russia. Denisova accused the Kremlin of having plans to facilitate procedures for the adoption of these children.
In this regard, UNICEF's director for emergency operations, Manuel Fontaine, said Tuesday during a press conference that the organization does not have any evidence at present to back up Kiev's accusations but is open to investigating them.
According to UNICEF reports, since the military conflict began at the end of February, more than 4.5 million people have left Ukraine, while 7.1 million are currently internally displaced persons (IDPs). More than 90 percent of the refugees are women and children, UNICEF has also said.