StopFake found no evidence of Ukrainian refugees living in Europe having their children taken away from them. The German Federal Criminal Police Office (Bundeskriminalamt) and the Youth Welfare Office (Jugendamt) are not aware of any such cases in the families of Ukrainian refugees.

Kremlin media spread a claim by Volodymyr Rohov, a collaborator in the temporarily occupied part of Zaporizhzhia region, that Ukrainian children were “brazenly taken away” from their refugee parents in Europe. 

According to Rohov, “babies are taken from their families for odd reasons – such as excessive appetite and strong emotional attachment to parents”. He said that there are already 79 such known cases, and that most often such cases occur in Germany.

Russian media regularly propagate the narrative that in European countries, children, especially refugees, are taken away from their families for any reason. In this way, Russian propaganda tries to create an image of an unsafe Europe that lacks traditional family values (in the Russian definition of the term), where children are torn from their parents in order to instil in them the European values that are so deeply alien to Russians. The version that children are then allegedly handed over to pedophiles, or even sold to organ traffickers, is also spreading.

StopFake has contacted various child protective services in Germany and hasn’t received any confirmation that such cases have occurred. Responding to StopFake the German Criminal Police press service noted that it is unaware of any such cases. A review of various European media also shows that no one has written about such cases, although journalists would clearly pay attention to such stories, especially if there are 79 of them, as Russian propagandist Rohov claims. 

Due to the fact that fakes about taking children away from refugee families in Germany are common, European journalists from InfoMigrants released a short explanatory video that debunks this claim. For example, InfoMigrants explains that Germany has the Jugendamt, the Youth Welfare Office, and its role is to support parents in childcare and upbringing, as well as to help during difficult times, such as divorce.

But the Jugendamt does not check upon your parenting as part of any integration or asylum process. It has no opinion about your parenting style or your cultural customs. However: It may get involved if there is any indication that you might be harming or hurting your child. It will interfere if there is proof that you are posing a threat to your child’s wellbeing. Such threats include: Physical, sexual or psychological abuse. As long as you raise your child with love and respect and don’t hurt your son or daughter, you have nothing to fear” the InfoMigrants explain. 

German officials that do have the authority to remove children from their families state that this extreme measure is used only if the child is in serious danger. In other cases experts decide together with the parents what kind of temporary assistance can be provided to the child. If a child’s stay in the family is dangerous for him or her, then the child is placed either with a foster family or in special institutions, such as special children’s hostels. It should be noted that if a child is nevertheless taken from his or her home, such offices actively work to ensure that the child maintains contact with his or her biological family. But then again, no one has ever been taken away from their parents for having a “bad appetite” or “strong emotional attachment”.

It is also worth noting that the only source of this disinformation is the collaborator Volodymyr Rohov, who has repeatedly spread fakes and propaganda narratives of the Kremlin.