Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Issues Affecting African Children #1: Trafficking Children-- or Protecting Them?

A scandle has erupted in Chad, central Africa, over the past week. Members of a French charity called L'Arche de Zoe (Zoe's Ark) have been arrested on charges of child trafficking. Reportedly, they took nearly 100 children from the Chad/Sudan border, dressed them to look injured, and attempted to smuggle them to France, where numerous families waited to take them in. These families had paid several thousand dollars to Zoe's Ark, though most have claimed they were to be hosts, not adoptive parents. Not only were the children all in relatively good health, but many of them were not actually orphans. The children never left the country, and efforts are being made to reunite them with their families. The arrested charity members claim they were saving the children's lives by taking them away from a potentially volatile situation near Sudan. (For more information, click here.)

The question I'd like to ask is this: was this simply a case of greed and child trafficking-- or an attempt at mercy? These children were stolen away from their families, the charity members even (according to BBC's Africa Today podcast) lying to the parents to get the children. Families in France paid large sums of money, essentially adopting these children illegaly. And yet, the people under arrest claim they were doing everything they could to save these children from a possible violent, painful death. On the border between Chad and Sudan, these likelihood must be realized.

So, all you blog lurkers out there, I'm asking you to make yourselves finally known. What do you think: trafficking or protection? Any thoughts on this issue are welcome, as long as no one attacks anyone else. I'll post my own thoughts in a few days, after a few of you have posted responses. This is an issue that comes up across Africa, not just in Chad. Let's try for an intelligent, thoughtful dialogue on this issue.

No comments: