The Courage Projects Demands Action for More Than 20,000 Ukrainian Children Taken by Russia

International partnership brings three Ukrainian children who were abducted by Russia to the United Nations to give testimony — the first time the U.N. has heard directly from Ukrainian survivors of Russia’s mass child abduction

NEW YORK, Feb. 23, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — A day before the two-year anniversary of Russia’s war on Ukraine, three Ukrainian children gave testimony at the United Nations, detailing their experiences being abducted by Russian forces. In recounting their personal stories, 13-year-old Sasha, 11-year-old Ilya, and 14-year-old Kira sought to advocate for the release of more than 20,000 kidnapped Ukrainian children remaining in Russian captivity. The closed-door session marked the first time that U.N. members have heard directly from survivors of Russia’s mass child abduction, a violation of the Genocide Convention.

Builders Ukraine co-chair and BlueCheck Ukraine co-founder actor Liev Schreiber delivered opening remarks at the U.N. meeting. Schreiber asked the member nations to take all necessary steps for a safe return of all Ukrainian children taken by Russia, stating:

“In the face of all these injustices, trauma, and human rights violations, there is perhaps no more basic and fundamental definition of human security than for a child not to be separated from their parents. We are here today to raise awareness and to confront the horrific reality that thousands of Ukrainian children have literally been torn from their families and forcibly deported to the Russian Federation and Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine, and also to take necessary steps to foster their safe return and reunification with their families, consistent with international law.” 

The Ukrainian government has identified more than 20,000 cases of children who have been unlawfully abducted, while Russia continues to illegally transfer Ukrainian children to Russian territory. Russian President Vladimir Putin and his children’s commissioner, Maria Lvova-Belova, have both been charged by the International Criminal Court in The Hague for child deportations.

Sasha, Ilya, and Kira are among only a few hundred Ukrainian children who have been rescued from Russian captivity. The rest remain held in Russia, where they are being indoctrinated to support Russia’s brutal campaign against their homeland. Russia has passed legislation making it easier for Russian families to adopt Ukrainian children and to grant them Russian citizenship. Without significant international pressure on Russia, the stolen children may never be returned.

In response, Builders Ukraine and its partners have launched The Courage Project, which seeks to put international pressure on Russia to release the abducted children while generating funds to support the youngest victims of Russia’s aggression. The project is asking people across the world to honor the bravery of Kira, Ilya, and Sasha by signing a petition that demands Russia comply with the Geneva Conventions and immediately release the names and locations of all Ukrainian Children who have been abducted.

The petition will be presented at the U.N. on June 1, International Children’s Day, urging the U.N. General Assembly to do everything necessary to ensure the children are returned to Ukraine swiftly and safely.

The Courage Project is a collaboration between Builders Ukraine; Bring Kids Back UA, an initiative of President Zelenskyy; BlueCheck Ukraine; and the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS). For more information about The Courage Project, visit:

About Builders Ukraine

Co-chaired by Actor and Director Liev Schreiber, Chef and Humanitarian José Andrés, Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Alexander Vindman, social entrepreneur Daniel Lubetzky, and global human rights and pro-democracy activist Garry Kasparov, Builders Ukraine is a non-profit initiative to keep the world engaged in Ukraine’s fight to defend its freedom and democracy from totalitarian aggression. The initiative seeks to remind the free world of the shared values and humanity at stake when absolutist forces gain power. Builders Ukraine is part of a larger Builders network equipping people with the tools to overcome extreme thinking and work together to solve our toughest problems. Learn more at and

About BlueCheck Ukraine

BlueCheck Ukraine identifies, vets, and funds effective Ukrainian humanitarian organizations responding to the consequences of the devastating Russian invasion. Its 25+ frontline partners evacuate children, provide emergency medical care and mental health services, build shelters, distribute food and cash assistance, remove unexploded ordnance, and more. Learn more at

About Bring Kids Back UA

Bring Kids Back UA is a strategic action plan initiated by President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine. It unites the efforts of the Ukrainian government, partner countries, and international organizations to bring back the children who have been forcefully deported from Ukraine. Learn more at

About Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) offers critical support to the families of America’s fallen military heroes, including peer-based emotional support, grief counseling, and specialized programs for adults and children. Learn more at

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SOURCE Builders Ukraine

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