It has been claimed that a group of Americans being held in Haiti on suspicion of illegally trying to take children out of the country were given permission to do so.
The Haitian authorities are due to decide imminently whether to press charges. The Americans were arrested last week trying to enter the Dominican Republic with a busload of more than thirty children.
Their lawyer now says the they were duped by a local pastor.
“They“re victims,” says Edwin Coq. “They came to Haiti to help the Haitian people.” The lawyer claimed the pastor wrote a letter giving the Americans permission to leave with the children, saying his orphanage had been destroyed in the earthquake and he could not feed or house them.
The group deny being involved in child trafficking. Haiti“s prime minister Jean-Max Bellerive said he thought they were getting a disproportionate amount of attention.
“I believe it“s a distraction for the Haitian people because they are talking more now about ten people than about one million people suffering on the streets.”
Bill Clinton, the UN“s special representative in Haiti, has been asked to coordinate the aid effort. The former US president, who is due there tomorrow, will also help plan a forthcoming donors conference.
Three weeks after the quake, the huge US-led relief operation has been struggling to help survivors. The UN has admitted its early efforts were disorganised but says the situation is improving daily.