January 31 2010
Haiti: SOS Children's Villages takes care of those 33 children who possibly became victims of child trafficking
31/01/2010 - Late evening on 29 January, the Haitian police have arrested ten U.S. citizens caught trying to take 33 children out of Haiti to the Dominican Republic in a suspected illicit adoption scheme, authorities said on Saturday. The suspects could neither show official papers confirming the identity of the children nor any official permission for bringing the children out of the country. On 30 January in the evening, the Haitian Social Ministry entrusted those 33 children (aged three months to twelve years) to the care of SOS Children's Villages.
The 33 children were distressed, hungry and thirsty - Photo: Georg Willeit
All children were accommodated in the family houses at the SOS Children's Village in Santo on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. As an interim solution tents were set up at the village compound for the SOS children as the 33 children - presumably victims of trafficking - need special attention and care.
According to SOS co-workers in Santo, the children were distressed, hungry and thirsty. Before they were admitted to the SOS families, every child was immediately provided with beverages and properly registered. The youngest ones were examined by the Red Cross (based at the SOS Children's Village in Santo) and provided with food respectively were feed with infusion.
Medical examination of every child was conducted - Photo: Georg Willeit
The SOS teams are now closely monitoring the children and try their best to comfort them and give them the feeling of safety and protection. At the same time efforts are made to search for relatives.
"But I am not an orphan", told an eight-year-old girl. She thought that her mother has arranged short holidays for her. Some of these children obviously still have parents who assumedly were persuaded to hand over their children under false pretenses. The allegations have to be thoroughly investigated but the Haitian police consider this incident as organised child trafficking.
Photo: Georg Willeit
This incident again highlights the absolute necessity to provide appropriate care and protection especially for children in emergency situations. As urged recently in a joint statement by members of the NGO Group for the Convention on the Rights of the Child’s Working Group on Children without Parental Care (Geneva) and the NGO Committee on UNICEF Working Group on Children without Parental Care (New York), all stakeholders (the Government of Haiti, as well as all local, national and international governmental and non-governmental agencies) must prevent unnecessary separation of families, inept and potentially harmful evacuation efforts and prevent the trafficking of children through inappropriate or unlawful inter-country adoptions in emergency situations. The UN Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children, the first international document on the care of children without parental care in non-emergency and emergency situations, are providing clear guidance on how to act in such exceptional circumstances.
Photo: Georg Willeit
For security reasons, all co-workers of SOS Children's Villages are wearing identification stickers; all children from the SOS Children's Village in Santo wear wristbands. The entry to the SOS Children's Village in Santo is now strictly controlled.