Around 100 babies are stranded in Ukraine waiting for parents after the government closed borders amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The infants were born to surrogate mothers and are due to be collected by parents from 12 countries including the UK, US, Italy, China, Mexico, Germany and France.
The country’s border restrictions are set to remain in place until at least May 22 – but the Commissioner for Human Rights in Ukraine has warned that an extended lockdown could leave thousands of children waiting for absent mums and dads,
If the situation continues, clinics will be put under extreme pressure and parents left distressed, according to Ombudswoman Lyudmila Denisova.
She said: ‘About 100 children are already waiting for their parents in different centres of reproductive medicine.
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‘And if quarantine is extended, then it will not be about hundreds, but about thousands.’
The issue was first brought to public attention after Biotexcom, the country’s largest surrogate operation, posted a video showing dozens of babies in two hotel rooms intended to house the clinic’s clients.
The clip was posted in order to reassure parents – some of whom have paid tens of thousands of pounds for the surrogacy – that their children were being well looked after.
There are currently 51 babies at Biotexcom, with 15 of them being cared for by parents who entered the country before lockdown.
A proposed special visa regime could see foreign parents write to Ms Denisova’s office, which would then contact the ministry with a request to grant permission to enter Ukraine.
However, officials are still considering a solution to the ‘complex situation’.
Ms Denisova, who met with Foreign Ministry representatives on Thursday, said: ‘The issue remains unresolved, but we are developing a mechanism to get out of the situation.’
Ukraine is one of the few countries that allows surrogacy for foreigners, with 50 clinics offering the service.
However, the BioTexCom video has pushed Ukraine president’s commissioner for children’s rights Mykola Kuleba to call on the government to outlaw the practice for foreigners.
He wrote on Facebook: ‘Surrogate motherhood in Ukraine is not regulated and destroys the rights of children.
‘Commercialisation and allowing such a ‘service’ in Ukraine leads to the uncontrolled sale of Ukrainian children abroad.
‘The situation with babies in this hotel, which has gained notoriety, once again shows the disenfranchisement of children born by surrogate mothers.
‘The birth of a child far from the mother is unnatural. In this way, Ukraine simply becomes an international online store for babies.
‘And we do not know the real number of such children who are “supplied” by Ukraine in this way.’
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