ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Haïti face aux trafics d’enfants
by Damien Roustel
Translated Tuesday 9 February 2010, by Derek Hansonand reviewed by
The island of Haiti is currently haunted by the ghost of the French association Arche de Zoé, which in 2007 violated international laws by attempting to bring Sudanese children to France from Chad. On 31 January 10 Americans were arrested by police as they tried to enter the Dominican Republic with 33 children aged from two months to fourteen years. They are accused, along with two suspected Haitian accomplices, of ‘stealing’ children. ‘We only came here to help the children. Our intentions were good’, argued Laura Silsby, spokesperson for the Idaho-based Baptist association known as the ‘New Life Children’s Refuge’. ‘By talking to the older children, aged over seven, we found out that their parents are still alive’, said Patricia Vargas, regional director of the charity SOS Children’s Village. An inquiry is now underway.
‘Since 12 January certain people are taking advantage of the chaos and disorganisation to carry out what can only be described as child trafficking’, warned the director of the Haitian Institute for Social Well Being, the agency responsible for supervising the adoption of Haitian children. ‘One man alone rounded up 140 children’, she added. ‘Around 50% of the population is aged under 18 and 38% under the age of 14. With no support or protective environment these children are particularly vulnerable to a variety of threats, such as abduction, exploitation, illegal adoption, violence or being recruited into armed groups’, explains Unicef. The UN organisation is demanding a freeze on all new adoptions, except those that were set in motion before the earthquake struck. France has seen the arrival of 226 children since 12 January.