France’s government has offered its full co-operation with authorities in Chad over an investigation into alleged child trafficking involving the French charity, Zoe’s Ark. Six French aid workers, three French journalists, and a Spanish plane crew were caught on Thursday trying to fly 103 young children out of the country to France.
A Belgian pilot has also been arrested. They have personally told Chad’s President Idriss Deby that they were trying to save the lives of Darfur orphans. A French diplomat has said around 300 French and Belgian families paid up to 6,000 euros per child to have them flown to France. It is alleged the plan was to claim political asylum for them as unaccompanied minors.
French Secretary of State Rama Yade condemned the charity’s actions. “This operation was illegal and irresponsible. We need to let the inquiry take its course, but we are in complete agreement with President Deby and both say that this operation should not have happened,” she said.
The government in Chad claims not all the children were from Darfur, or were even orphans.
President Deby has accused the group of trying to sell the children, or even planning to kill them for their organs. That is something the charity, Zoe’s Ark, vehemently denies.