Children Missing From Haiti Hospitals Kidnapped for Adoption, UNICEF Says
Geneva. Children have gone missing from hospitals in Haiti since the devastating earthquake, raising fears of trafficking for adoption abroad, the UN Children’s Fund said on Friday.
“We have documented around 15 cases of children disappearing from hospitals and not with their own family at the time,” UNICEF adviser Jean Luc Legrand said.
“UNICEF has been working in Haiti for many years and we knew the problem with the trade of children in Haiti which existed already beforehand, and unfortunately many of these trade networks have links with the international adoption market.”
The agency underlined it had warned countries during the past week not to step up adoptions from Haiti in after the quake.
But, several are fast-tracking adoption procedures already under way, including Canada, France, Germany, Netherlands, Spain and the United States.
Legrand said the situation was similar to the aftermath of the tsunami in Asia five years ago.
Trafficking networks were springing into action immediately after the disaster and taking advantage of the weakness of local authorities and relief coordination “to kidnap children and get them out of the country,” Legrand said.
Rupert Colville, a spokesman for the office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said child enslavement and trafficking in Haiti was “an existing problem and could easily emerge as a serious issue over the coming weeks and months.”
Legrand said there was separate but only anecdotal evidence of people taking children to the neighboring Dominican Republic and planes loading children before they left the airport.
“We have seen over the last years many children being taken out of the country without any legal procedure. This is going on, this is happening now, and we are starting to have the first evidence of that, this is unquestionable.”