UNICEF worker helped charity in child kidnap row

8th November 2007, Comments 0 comments

8 November 2007, NEW YORK - The UN children's fund said Wednesday that one of its junior staff members had without authorisation given aid to the French charity accused of trying to spirit 103 children out of Chad to France.

8 November 2007

NEW YORK - The UN children's fund said Wednesday that one of its junior staff members had without authorisation given aid to the French charity accused of trying to spirit 103 children out of Chad to France.

"A recently-hired junior international staff member in UNICEF's Abeche field office provided a small amount of food supplements and equipment for babies (valued at 130 dollars) on 24 September 2007, in response to an urgent request made by people identifying themselves as representatives of Children Rescue," the UN agency said in a statement.

"UNICEF procedures were not followed in the provision of this material," it said.

Children Rescue is the name the Zoe's Ark charity was using to operate in Chad, UNICEF said.

Twenty-one people linked to the group were arrested in Chad in October after it attempted to fly 103 children out of the central African country claiming they were orphan refugees from Sudan's Darfur strife.

International relief workers said many of the children seemed to be Chadian and that they had parents, however.

In its statement Wednesday UNICEF condemned the attempted airlift as contravening international practices and laws, said its senior staff were unaware of the junior worker's action, and said it had no formal or informal agreement with Zoe's Ark/Children rescue.

"The provision of this material was motivated by the desire to provide life-saving support to purportedly malnourished children. However this contravened UNICEF rules and procedures and should not be interpreted as recognition of the organization by UNICEF," it said.

The person who provided the aid was unaware the charity planned to take the children out of Chad.

The UNICEF staffer provided the group one carton of F100 therapeutic milk, one carton of F75 therapeutic milk, and 50 mid-upper arm circumference tapes which are used to screen for malnutrition, according to the agency.

Six French charity volunteers, three Spaniards and a Belgian pilot remain in custody and have appeared before magistrates in N'Djamena on charges of attempted kidnapping and complicity. Four Chadians have also been charged in the case.

AFP

Subject: French news

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