Haiti Orphans: URGENT Breaking news Baby and Child Traffickers Caught
Haiti Orphans: Breaking news Child Traffickers Caught, SOS Children given care of trafficked children by ministry
Today [30 January] the director of the IBERS (government social welfare institute) requested our help to care and protect 34 children.
These were caught at the border to the Dominican Republic (DR) where US Americans were trying to cross the border illegally with them. The children between the ages of 3 months to 12 years were transported in illegal conditions, according to the government officials. IBERS tells us they were being transported by an organisation called New life – children refuge (www.newlifechildrensrefuge.org) which advertises adoption services to Americans.
Most of the children were in a very bad emotional state, and a small baby was taken to the hospital because the doctor from the Dominican Red Cross hospital based at the village examined her and recommended the immediate hospital attention. The baby is now back in the village and recovering. Some of the children mentioned that they have parents, according to a twelve year old girl she and her family had been told was going to a boarding school in Dominican Republic. After the admission of the children, three persons came to the village claiming been the fathers and old brother of five children, they said the woman who took the children to DR said she organised summer camps for the children, and that now, because of the Haitian situation, she offered them to take care of their children in DR but they had not intended it to be permanent.
The paper with the information about New Life that their relatives showed us says: “We have a beautiful place for them to live with a soccer field, swimming pool and short walk to the ocean. We have authorization from the government to bring orphanages children, babies up to 10 years old in the DR. Haitian friends or relatives can come to DR and visit the children and get updates through our website”. New Life, according to its website, apparently invites American parents seeking to adopt to live in this camp whilst the formalities of adoption go through.
As urgent investigation has been started the trace the families of these trafficked and traumatised children, these children have to go back to their families as soon as possible. The procedure will be conducted by the IBERS, the government agency.
We have agreed to provide safe shelter; we are moving out old children from the village (some former SOS children who returned at the moment of crisis) and moving others around from homes into tents to find the best accomodation for these small children.
There is no further information about the families of another 96 children who have been brought to us by UNICEF, with whom we are working closely. We are requesting the director of IBERS to add these children to their urgent tracing program.
The formal trauma programmes have been limited due to the lack of human resources, but due to the help of a volunteer a room for group therapy is organised, and tomorrow [31 January] the group sessions with children and co-workers will start.
With the help of the teenagers at the village three teams were built to help life at the village return to normality (health team, water team, cleaning team).
Security at the village is still not fully guaranteed, and our request request for protection from the MINUSTAD are channelled through different ways (e.g. USG special advisor for orphans and vulnerable children, Mr Gary Newton from USAID, and the national director of IBERS
Family strengthening programme 33 community centres are still running distribution programs and other new communities are requesting support. The number of children we are reaching out to is increasing every day. The logistic for the food delivery is improving but we still have weaknesses in the process; and again the security issue is still not resolved.
Operating the emergency programme is a real challenge; there are organisational issues not linked directly to the emergency but which complicated the effectiveness of the response. The biggest barrier at the moment still (although challenges are been taken) is the reluctance of the traumaticised local staff to lead the emergency response, most of the responsibility is on the international staff. In addition to the different cultural approaches, the post-traumatic impact of the earthquake and the material situation of the co-workers (some lost their houses completely) cause a lack of skills in some key people. There are difficulties in finding local staff because wages in the professional market are now higher than our normal rates for professional staff.