Red Cross interviews children at the centre of Chad orphans scandal

30th October 2007, Comments 0 comments

30 October 2007, GENEVA (AFP) - The international Red Cross said Tuesday that it was interviewing some of the 103 children in Chad who are caught up in an alleged abduction scandal involving a French charity, to find out where they come from.

30 October 2007

GENEVA (AFP) - The international Red Cross said Tuesday that it was interviewing some of the 103 children in Chad who are caught up in an alleged abduction scandal involving a French charity, to find out where they come from.

"We are seeing with the older ones where they come from to eventually  decide if our family reunification unit should be involved," International Committee of the Red Cross spokeswoman Anna Schaaf told AFP in Geneva.

Sixteen Europeans were arrested last Thursday as they prepared to put the children -- who were presented as orphans whose lives were at risk from civil war in Sudan's western province of Darfur -- on a chartered flight to France.

Aid workers caring for the children in Abeche -- who were to be adopted or fostered by families in France each paying 2,800 to 6,000 euros -- say they are aged one to 10.

Most seem to be from Chad, not Darfur, and there is no proof they are orphans.

Nine French nationals -- six members of the charity Zoe's Ark and three journalists -- were charged by a Chadian court with "kidnapping of minors" and "fraud", the prosecutor's office in the eastern town of Abeche said.

The seven Spanish crew of the aircraft and two Chadian nationals were charged with complicity to kidnapping.

Schaaf said a meeting was scheduled with Chad authorities about the children later on Tuesday.

The UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the UN refugee agency were also helping the children, the ICRC said.

UNICEF spokeswoman Veronique Taveau said: "For the moment we don't know if these children are orphans or not, and we don't know where they come from."

AFP

Subject: French news

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