Nine French arrested in Chad for kidnapping 103 children

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The arrest in Chad of nine French nationals on charges of kidnapping 103 purported Darfuri orphans led to serious accusations against the human rights organizations involved on Friday. Chadian President Idriss Deby called the action of the French NGO Rescue Children “inhuman, unacceptable (and) unthinkable.” He said those arrested would be “severely punished.”

Six members of Rescue Children and three French journalists were jailed on Thursday on charges of kidnapping and trafficking in children after being taken into custody at the airport of Abeche, in eastern Chad, as they were preparing to leave the country with the children on a Boeing 757 aircraft.They are suspected of wanting to take the children to France to have them adopted by French families.

…A spokeswoman for the United Nations child care organization (UNICEF) Veronique Taveau, speaking in Geneva, said: “What has happened in Chad and the way it has been carried out is illegal and irresponsible and it has breached all international rules.” The children had neither passports nor identity papers and therefore could not legally leave the country.Le Parisien reported that some 300 families had paid between 2,800 and 6,000 euros (4,000 to 8,600 dollars) apiece for the right to accommodate the children in their homes.

Late Thursday, the French Foreign Ministry firmly denounced the operation and said that both Sudan and Chad “are sovereign states that do not authorize adoption.” The Paris public prosecutor’s office has opened an investigation into the affair.In addition, the website of the weekly Le Nouvel Observateur reported Friday that Antoine Gerard, head of the UN’s Office of the Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs, said that L’Arche de Zoe had not been registered to work in Sudan.

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