Friday, November 2, 2007

Helping OR Stealing Africa's Children?

AlJazeera English reports on the French charity alleged to be involved in child kidnapping by Chad claims it was rescuing the children who were fleeing war-ravaged Darfur in neighbouring Sudan. Our correspondent, Mohamad Vall, went to the border town of Tine to uncover the plight of families still living there.

Chad parents seek return of France-bound children

ABECHE, Chad (AFP) — At a social centre in this desert town, Rhamis Adoum Aroun waited, seeking the three children he entrusted to a charity for an education, not to have them flown out of their Chadian homeland for France.

Adoum was among 30 villagers from a strife-torn border region gathered in Chad's main eastern town. He prayed to find his brother's four children too, now that they had heard how a week earlier, those alleged orphans were nearly flown out of the country.

"In my village, there's no school because of the insecurity," he said. "We were told that an NGO had set itself up in Adre and that there, our kids could learn the Koran and get a French schooling."

Nobody, he explained, had told Adoum that this French charity, l'Arche de Zoe (Zoe's Ark), intended to fly his children and those of his brother right of their country for an utterly different life with foster families in France.

The legal authorities in Chad have charged charity members with kidnapping and also pressed charges against three journalists and accused a Spanish flight crew and Belgian pilot of complicity, in a case that has been transferred to the capital N'Djamena.

But Adoum never met any of the white people. "They didn't come directly to our village. It was the head of a neighbouring village who visited to inform us of the opportunity to send the children to the ONG in Adre."

That was five weeks ago.

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