KIEV — Lying in rows of cots in a small hotel on the outskirts of Kiev, 51 babies born to surrogate mothers are stranded in Ukraine as the coronavirus lockdown is preventing parents from the United States, Europe and elsewhere from collecting them.
Ukraine imposed a ban on foreigners entering in March, and most parents have only seen their newborns through pictures and video calls with the clinic.
Rafa Aires from Spain managed to get in before the lockdown. He was united with his daughter Marta but cannot leave as Kiev has suspended almost all flights and he needs to finish the paperwork.
It means a stressful wait for his wife Maria, who was unable to travel with him due to work.
“Every day I make video calls with my wife for one hour or an hour and a half for her to see the baby,” he said. “It is very difficult.”
“Nurses and medical personnel in this hotel are wonderful. They make my life easier,” he said.
The government says it can only permit parents to enter Ukraine if it receives a request from the relevant embassy.
The Hotel Venice belongs to the clinic BioTexCom, which released video footage of the babies to raise public awareness and spur the government into acting more quickly.
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Reaction from the authorities was swift.
Lyudmyla Denisova, the human rights ombudsman for the Ukrainian parliament, said the video showed the country had a “massive and systemic” surrogacy industry where babies were advertised as a “high quality product”.
She suggested looking into changing the law to allow only Ukrainian parents to use such services.