Extra checks on departing Haitian children

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Extra checks on departing Haitian children

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Amid concern that child traffickers may try to take advantage of the chaos in Haiti, extra border checks are being put in place.

Documents of departing children are being checked at Port-au-Prince airport, and authorities are trying to get more checkpoints on the border with the Dominican Republic.

Kent Page, a UNICEF spokesperson, said: “We have heard reports of children being taken out of the country and UNICEF is very concerned about this.

“These reports are being investigated right now by the government and there are a number of actions that UNICEF is working with the government and partners to ensure that this kind of situation stops.”

Thousands of children have been orphaned by the quake, and there is concern that normal adoption procedures are not being followed. Workers on the ground say abuse or exploitation is a real threat.

Jacques Hintzy, the President of UNICEF France, said: “We have to wait to be sure of the situation of these children. Have they really lost their parents? Do they not have any other family members, an uncle, an aunt, a brother, interested in welcoming them, or possibly a Haitian family that would like to take care of them?

“Only after all of these possibilities are exhausted, including adoption by a Haitian family, only then might we envisage an international adoption.”

French authorities are stressing that 33 Haitian orphans who arrived in Paris last night had been legally adopted by foreigners prior to the quake.
Their departure was brought forward, however, because of the disaster.