On December 8, the Chairman of the Open Society Foundations, Alexis Soros, visited Kyiv, where he met with representatives of the government and civil society, and announced the allocation of $1 million to support the rehabilitation of Ukrainian children affected by the war. This is the second visit of Alexander Soros to Ukraine in the last 2 months.
Mr. Soros took part in a meeting of the International Coalition of Countries for the Return of Ukrainian Children. The initiative is a logical continuation of the Bring Kids Back UA plan of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy and will facilitate the return of Ukrainian children who were deported or forcibly displaced by Russia from the temporarily occupied territories of Ukraine.
On the sidelines of the Coalition meeting, Alexander held a series of talks with representatives of the Ukrainian government and civil society. In particular, he spoke with President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy, Head of the Office of the President of Ukraine Andriy Yermak and other officials.
Andriy Yermak thanked Alexander Soros for participating in the first founding meeting of the International Coalition for the Return of Ukrainian Children, which took place on Friday in Kyiv. “Your participation is very important. I hope that the coalition will demonstrate successful results,” the Head of the Presidential Office said.
The Head of the Presidential Office emphasized the importance of wide publicity in the world of cases of deportation of Ukrainian minors by Russia. In his opinion, this can be facilitated by publishing a book with stories about such children, as well as involvement of world-famous personalities in the process of their return to Ukraine.
“Your family does a lot for Ukraine – important projects for the protection of our people, strengthening democracy, for the success of the Ukrainian state,” the President noted.
Also, in the presence of Alexander Soros, the International Renaissance Foundation signed a number of memorandums of cooperation.
In particular, Alexander, together with the Executive Director of the International Renaissance Foundation Oleksandr Sushko, met with the First Lady of Ukraine Olena Zelenska and the Director of her Foundation Nina Gorbacheva. Oleksandr announced that the Open Society Foundations, of which the International Renaissance Foundation is a part, are joining the projects of the Olena Zelenska Foundation to support children raised in large foster families in the frontline, de-occupied and affected regions of Ukraine. USD 1 million will be used to provide conditions for the development of Ukrainian children, their recreation away from the fighting, creating opportunities for socialization and improving their mental state.
Following the meeting, a memorandum of cooperation was signed between the Olena Zelenska Foundation and the International Renaissance Foundation.
“Every project of my Foundation is centered on people, and children in particular. My team and I are trying to do everything we can to ensure that children in Ukraine study, develop their talents, socialize and have a childhood despite the war. I am grateful to the Open Society Foundations for their intention to cooperate and partner with us,” said Olena Zelenska, First Lady of Ukraine and founder of the Foundation.
Another meeting was held with Minister of Health Viktor Liashko, where the parties signed a memorandum of cooperation between the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and the International Renaissance Foundation. The signed memorandum envisages joint work in the field of psychological rehabilitation and psychological support for citizens, including family members of military personnel, families of war victims, prisoners of war and internally displaced persons from the territories where hostilities are taking place and the de-occupied territories.
“I am grateful to our international partners and representatives of civil society for joining us and helping to solve this problem. When we were considering options for creating a psychological rehabilitation hub, we saw the great potential of Odesa region. Today we are taking a step in this direction,” said Viktor Liashko, Minister of Health of Ukraine.
Two pilot institutions in the Odesa region were selected to implement cooperation projects under the memorandum: The Ukrainian Medical Center for Rehabilitation of Mother and Child of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine and the Arcadia Specialized Sanatorium of the Ministry of Health of Ukraine. Training of medical workers is planned. In addition, stakeholders and potential investors will be sought to set up modular medical and rehabilitation centers, as well as to upgrade the material and technical base and medical equipment.
“We want to strengthen those who need our help the most. That is why supporting the physical and mental health of war victims is one of the important priorities for our Foundation,” said Oleksandr Sushko, Executive Director of the International Renaissance Foundation, “Today, Ukrainian children who are experiencing the horrors of war need support. Their rehabilitation, which we will work on together with the Ministry of Health of Ukraine, helps not only to restore their condition, but also to secure their future, improve their opportunities and conditions for development. This is an investment in our common future as a country.”
Also, in the presence of Alexander Soros, the Foundation signed a memorandum with Daria Gerasymchuk, the Commissioner of the President of Ukraine for Children’s Rights on the rehabilitation of war-affected children.
The memorandum was signed on behalf of President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyy to consolidate joint efforts to protect the rights of children affected by Russia’s armed aggression.
On the occasion of the signing of the memorandum, the Chairman of the Open Society Foundations, Alexander Soros, voiced his full support in all steps of the Bring Kids Back UA plan approved by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy. This plan also complies with the fourth point of the Ukrainian Formula for Peace regarding the release of all prisoners and deportees.
Therefore, the International Renaissance Foundation, founded by the famous American philanthropist George Soros and part of the Open Society Foundations, is committed to providing comprehensive assistance to Ukraine and facilitating the implementation of the Bring Kids Back UA plan, in particular, in the issue of returning children illegally deported and forcibly abducted to Russia.
Oleksandr Sushko confirmed this during the signing of the document: “We understand the difficult, sometimes impossible, efforts required to return Ukrainian children. And our Foundation is ready to join the implementation of key areas within the framework of the Bring Kids Back UA plan and achieve the main goal – to bring all Ukrainian children back home.”
The main areas of cooperation between Ukraine and the Foundation are the implementation of measures for the return of children, promotion of family upbringing, reintegration and educational initiatives, support for child protection projects, as well as inter-parliamentary interaction and other forms of cooperation.
“We continue to combine our efforts and intellectual resources to achieve the main goal of bringing all Ukrainian children home. This is an important area of joint action to protect our children!” said Daria Gerasymchuk.
At the office of the International Renaissance Foundation, Alexander Soros also met with Ukrainian experts working on the return of Ukrainian children abducted by Russia. The human rights activists told Alexander about the difficulties Ukraine is facing in its attempts to return the children home and the steps that the Open Society Foundations can take to help Ukrainian civil society in this endeavor.