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'Absolute nightmare': Calgarians call attention to the children unable to leave Ukraine

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A group of Calgarians gathered along Memorial Drive Sunday to draw attention to what they call "disgusting" treatment of Ukrainian children. 

About 100 people attended a protest and short ceremony organized by the Calgary branch of the Ukrainian-Canadian Congress. 

It comes as the Russian invasion of Ukraine approaches its first anniversary. 

"We're here calling attention to the toll the war has had on Ukraine's children," Stephania Romaniuk told CTV News. "Those in the occupied territories are living through an absolute nightmare. There have been UN reports of rapes, deportations, executions and even children being tortured. 

"Who's speaking for them?"

Earlier this month, the head of the United Nations refugee agency accused Moscow of illegally issuing passports to unaccompanied Ukrainian child refugees, with the intent of adopting them into Russian families. 

Romaniuk says she doesn't want that to go unnoticed. 

"The cost of this war on children is something a lot of people haven't realized the full stock of," she said. 

The gathered group held signs and waved flags just north of the Bow River. Later in the afternoon, they congregated in Flyover Park to lay flowers and blue and yellow ribbons atop children's shoes. 

They hope the footwear will serve as a visual reminder of the human toll of the invasion. 

The UN estimates more than 400 Ukrainian children have been killed since last February.

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