Embassy officials have been “working through the night” to ensure that Irish families who travelled to Ukraine to meet their new babies born via surrogacy can come home as quickly as possible.
Emergency travel documentation for those newborn babies has been issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) in order to expedite the process of coming to Ireland with their parents, which can often take several weeks.
Foreign Affairs Minister Simon Coveney said all consular assistance has been given to a number of Irish parents who had to travel to the volatile region in order to be united with their new babies. Some of them are travelling home this afternoon.
“Our teams in the embassy in Kiev and our consular team in Dublin have been literally working through the night with families to try and ensure that the families who have been involved in surrogacy over the last few days can get home safely,” he said.
“And just to reassure everybody that there are a number of families involved here. They are all safe and a number of them are on their way home this afternoon which is a good outcome.”
He told Newstalk’s ‘On the Record’ that there are a number of other Irish families expecting children to be born in Ukraine over the coming days and the official advice remains to not travel over there.
“Of course, we will work individually with the families to try and find solutions under difficult circumstances to keep everyone safe. And also to unite parents with children that are being born and our team are working closely with families to make sure we get the right outcome,” he said.
Some airlines have decided to suspend flights to Ukraine but Ryanair is continuing to operate in and out of the country and has proved to be “helpful” when sorted out travel arrangements for those affected.
Over the coming months, around a dozen babies expected to be born via surrogacy arranged by Irish couples amid huge concern over the volatility of the region as tensions continue with Russia.
Fine Gael Senator Mary Seery Kearney, whose own daughter was born by surrogacy, has been liasing with some of the parents affected.
She welcomed the news that emergency travel documentation for those newborn babies has been issued by the (DFA).
“The families involved are safe and that a number of them are currently on their way home,” she said.
“I am extremely grateful for the extraordinary effort that has gone into facilitating this, while still ensuring we have a legally robust process.”
Senator Kearney said a “truly incredible amount of work” has gone into ensuring the safe return to those families.
“I know that this has been an extremely worrying time for them given the ever-evolving situation and travel advice urging Irish citizens to leave due to escalating tensions between Ukraine and Russia.
“Our thoughts are also with the families of those expecting a baby in the coming weeks. No less effort will be put in to ensure the speedy return home to Ireland with their precious little ones,” she said.
The Irish Government had advised against all travel to Ukraine due to heightened tensions over Russia’s build-up of military troops around the country but some Irish parents are still hoping to travel over there in the weeks to come.
In normal circumstances, it can take three or four weeks to register the birth of a child with the Irish parents and the surrogate mother required to travel to the Irish embassy to get a birth certificate.
Support group Irish Families Through Surrogacy (IFTS) said that the news that the exit process home for those families has been expedited is “extremely welcome” and they wish them a safe journey home.
“Our thoughts are with the amazing women, all our surrogate mothers and their families at this time of great tension and anguish in Ukraine,” it said.