Children in Haiti are being traded by human traffickers for as little as $1.20 Canadian.
February 21, 2011 / soschildrenvillages,ca
“Human beings,” said former Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, “are not property.”
Yet, forms of modern-say slavery persist wherever there are vulnerable people. The trafficking of vulnerable children in Haiti, for instance, has continued to flourish more than one year after the devastating 7.0-magnitude earthquake of January 2010.
Social chaos has allowed traffickers to take advantage of children without parental care and families living in dire poverty. At present, says the United Nations, Haitian children are being sold for as little as 76 pence ($1.20 Canadian), according to The Daily Telegraph’s exclusive report.
Some children are sold by their parents, who are often unable to provide for their basic needs. Parents believe that in giving their children up, they will be sending them to better lives with more privileged families that can send then to school and take them to doctors. Such a decision is difficult for any parent to make. But, many parents have been lied to by traffickers masquerading as aid and adoption officials.
The main targets of the traffickers are vulnerable children living with relatives, of which there are tens of thousands living in Haiti’s displaced persons camps. There are about 800,000 people living in camps, so keeping track of and protecting everyone can be difficult.
Most of the children wind up in the Dominican Republic, but are trafficked for different purposes. Some children will be sold for international adoption. The adoptive parents of these children, many of whom are located across Europe, are unaware of the circumstances through which the children came to them.
“Well-meaning parents in the US and Europe have no idea that children are being kidnapped, stolen and bought from the displacement camps of Port au Prince,” a spokesperson for the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) told The Telegraph.
Other children, perhaps less fortunate, are trafficked into illegal prostitution rings, domestic labour, street begging, or trading in drugs and small arms.
In an effort to quell this rampant abuse of children, UNICEF is supporting the work of Brigade de Protection des Mineurs, which works to locate and protect vulnerable children in refugee camps and at border crossings.
Every year, it is estimated that 2,000 children are trafficked across Haiti’s borders. Since April of last year, more than 1,400 of the 7,000 children crossing the border were found not to have the correct travel documents. However, there are a number of unofficial border crossings that cannot be monitored 24 hours a day.
Last month, UNICEF and other child charities issues warnings against speedy adoptions because of the difficulty in stopping all child trafficking. After last year’s earthquake, many governments in developed countries streamlined adoption procedures in order to protect as many children as possible as quickly as they were able.