As many as ten Irish couples are understood to be in Ukraine awaiting the birth of their children via surrogacy or are with their newborn babies.

Ukraine's borders were closed in March as a result of the virus outbreak and are due to remain closed until 22 May.

More than 100 babies born to surrogate mothers have been stranded in Ukraine as their foreign parents either cannot collect them or leave with them due to border closures imposed during the coronavirus pandemic.

Ukraine's Ombudsman Lyudmila Denisova told reporters that number will grow the longer the lockdown is extended.

A solicitor who helped Irish couples to travel to the Ukraine said no Irish babies have been "abandoned".

Annette Hickey expressed gratitude to the Department of Foreign Affairs for its help in facilitating the couples.

The couples funded their own transport to Ukraine.


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Ms Hickey said claims that children have been abandoned in Ukraine has been very distressing for Irish couples who are currently going through surrogacy arrangements.

A nurse feeds a newborn baby at Venice hotel in Kiev

Ms Denisova said that 51 newborns are being cared for at the Venice hotel in Kiev, which is owned by one of the clinics in the capital.

Fifteen of these 51 babies were with their parents, while the other 36 were in the care of clinic staff.

Ms Denisova said they were due to be collected by parents from countries including Ireland, France, Italy, Spain, Germany and the US.

BioTexCom, the facility in question, has released a video showing dozens of newborns lying side by side in separate cots and being cared for by employees.

Ms Denisova said the clinic appealed to Ukraine's foreign ministry to facilitate the arrival of babies' parents, but the issue has not yet been resolved.

The National Infertility Support and Information Group has thanked the Department of Foreign Affairs and legal surrogacy experts, who it said "worked tirelessly" to facilitate couples reaching Ukraine over the last month "in time for their much longed for children".

In a statement, a spokesperson has said that the NISIG worked with the department during the Covid-19 crisis on behalf of couples who were awaiting the birth of their babies through surrogacy in Ukraine.

It has urged couples navigating their surrogacy journey to contact their solicitor or NISIG if they have concerns or require advise specific to their own situation.

Surrogate coach Becky Loftus - who helps Irish couples through surrogacy - said it was important for people to realise the situation was a result of Covid-19.

Many agencies and clinics there provide professional and transparent services for people hoping to become parents, including Irish couples.

She encouraged couples to speak to an Irish solicitor and support services like her own if they choose surrogacy.

Commercial surrogacy is illegal in most European countries but permitted in Ukraine.

One of the poorest European countries, post-Soviet Ukraine is an increasingly popular destination for foreigners looking for surrogate mothers.

Additional reporting AFP