Tuesday 5 April 2011

16 April: International Day Against Child Slavery Haiti: Children Sold to Human-Traffickers for 76p - less than 1€

Extract, by Laurie Hanna, Daily Mirror 22/02/2011
THEY survived a devastating earthquake which obliterated their homes and left them in disease-ridden squalor.

And now children in dirt-poor Haiti are being sold to callous human traffickers for less than a quid, it was revealed yesterday.

Some infants in the Caribbean country – still in chaos following last year’s horror quake – are being forced into prostitution. Others are being adopted by families in Europe who are unaware of their traumatic backgrounds.

Penniless parents, believing their young will lead better lives elsewhere, are handing them to crooks posing as concerned officials. Melissa Nau, 38, who suffers from learning and physical disabilities, sold four of her five children for 50 Haitian gourdes (76p) each. Unable to work to provide for them, she was living in a filthy, ramshackle camp in the quake-shattered capital Port-au-Prince when a man she knew only as Jacques offered to buy the youngsters, aged between four and eight. But the money only lasted a few months and she is broke again. Melissa and her remaining son Roland, who is 10 months old, later came to the attention of staff from the United Nations Children’s Fund and have been placed in a safe house.

The Brigade de Protection des Mineurs, a police department investigating child abuse, discovered that Melissa’s children were given false records and then illegally adopted by European families via an international adoption agency. 

Françoise Moise, a BPM officer, said trafficking had always been an issue in Haiti but had grown steadily worse in the last year. Mr Moise said some of the sprawling camps – where the million homeless live in tents – contained more than 80,000 families, making them difficult to monitor.

He added: “People are coming into the camps posing as government officials, or foreigners that have come to help Haiti. “They also pose as Haitians living abroad coming to help survivors and sometimes even as Haitians living here, pretending to be members of their family.”

The BPM has identified 8,000 children as “extremely vulnerable” within the camps and has also screened 7,000 children passing through the border into the Dominican Republic,1,400 of those were found not to have the right paperwork.

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