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European Parliament Mission to Ukraine. Isabel Wiseler-Lima took part in the mission of the Subcommittee on Human Rights to Kyiv and Chernihiv Oblast in Ukraine.
Isabel Wiseler-Lima, EPP spokesperson for the Subcommittee on Human Rights, travelled by plane to Poland and then by night train to Kyiv and the Chernihiv region in Ukraine with 5 other MEPs. They left on Saturday morning and returned at the end of the day on Tuesday - a 24-hour journey each way. On site, Sunday was devoted to meetings in Chernihiv, north of Kyiv. Meetings with local authorities, witnesses and survivors - at the place where the crimes were committed: the village of Yahidne. The testimonies were gripping.
"Finding ourselves in this cellar where an entire village had been crammed together, more than 360 people - 7 of whom died due to the conditions of detention and 10 were executed - was one of the most difficult moments of this mission. There was only one desire: to get out of this oppressive, squalid place where the air was scarce and the walls revealed the horror of what had happened there. To think that women, men and children had had to spend 28 days there, in indescribably unhygienic conditions, with no medicines, little or no food, dying people and the corpses of loved ones... to think that Russian soldiers - often drunk - regularly came down to get girls...
Listening to these testimonies, talking - in this very cellar - with those who survived... The emotions felt are indescribable... The horror and cruelty were palpable", said Isabel Wiseler-Lima.
That evening, a meeting was organised with NGOs that document the crimes and provide assistance to the victims. At the end, the delegation rushed back to the hotel as sirens were sounding in Kyiv: a drone alert indicated that everyone should head for the shelters. Fortunately, after half an hour spent in the hotel underground, the alert was lifted.
Monday was devoted to institutional meetings, including exchanges with Ivanna Klympush-Tsintsadze, Chair of the Parliamentary Committee on European Integration, and Daria Herasymchuk, Advisor and Commissioner to the President of Ukraine for Children's Rights - she spoke about the deportation of children and the Bring Kids Back UA programme.
Another highlight of the visit was the Hope and Healing Centre, where there was a discussion with Mr Kuleba, the founder of the Save Ukraine association, which has managed to get children out of Russia. Above all, there was a very moving meeting with young children and teenagers who had been moved to Russia by the occupying forces and only recently brought back to Ukraine. For example, the testimony of a teenager who came of age on Russian territory and who did not want to return without her twelve-year-old brother, who had been placed with a family. In the meantime, the young boy was afraid to go back with his sister because he had been taught that he would be killed by the Nazis if he returned to Ukraine. This indoctrination is carried out systematically on children and young people. The fate of these children must be of concern to us all.
The last meeting was with the Prosecutor General of Ukraine. Andriy Kostin is not only doing an exceptional job of holding the perpetrator accountable for the crimes he has committed, but he is also leading a highly effective fight against corruption and serious crime in his country. The exchange was particularly instructive and highlighted the fact that the cases of high-profile personalities being indicted - widely reported in the international media - are due to an anti-corruption policy pursued with determination.
The delegation assured its various interlocutors that the European Parliament was at the side of the Ukrainians, that the aim was to support them on the road to accession to the European Union, that the crimes against humanity committed on Ukrainian territory must be brought to justice and that we support the creation of an international tribunal whose legitimacy cannot be questioned.
"In addition to the displaced children, the fate of the thousands of Ukrainian civilian prisoners of war who have been arbitrarily and unjustifiably displaced and imprisoned in Russia and Belarus must receive international attention. These men and women are in grave danger and there is no international mechanism dedicated to such cases. We cannot be indifferent, nor can we become accustomed to the tragedies that the Ukrainians are experiencing. Our message to them remains and will remain the same: we are at your side for as long as necessary", added Isabel Wiseler-Lima.
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The EPP Group is the largest political group in the European Parliament with 178 Members from all EU Member States
Press Assistant for Constitutional Affairs Committee. National press, Belgian and Luxembourgish Media
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