Trafficking for International Adoption

Sometimes we forget that human trafficking is not just for sexual exploitation. Men are trafficked (for sexual purposes and for labor). Women and children are trafficked and forced into sweatshops. People’s organs are harvested. Debt bondage, fraudulent international adoptions, and organized rings of child begging continue to go under-noticed. I wanted to share this recent report by IOM to highlight some problems in international adoption.

Ordeal of Children Victims of Trafficking for International Adoption Revealed Posted on Friday, 17-08-2007

Cuban doctor examines a child during rescue. © IOM 2007

Haiti – More disturbing details are surfacing just over a week after the rescue of 48 trafficked children who had been kept in a rogue crèche awaiting illegal international adoption, causing further concern over an estimated 100 children still believed to be in the crèche.The 48 rescued last week were found in conditions of extreme neglect by officials from Haiti’s Social Well-Being and Research Institute (IBERS by its French acronym), the government agency that oversees legal adoption in the country. Most were suffering from malnutrition, severe diarrhea, dehydration, and skin diseases.

Many parents had difficulties recognizing their children upon their return home. “He was in such a state of neglect, it’s as if I will need to bury my child,” said a father after seeing the condition of his child.

One government official revealed that during an unannounced visit made a few days before the rescue, the children were hidden in the basement, frightened and filthy. Neighbours have confirmed that they often heard children crying.

In a statement to a local radio station, one of the presumed traffickers said that when the imminent rescue of the children was announced, those working at the crèche restricted the amount of food and other basic care normally given to the children.

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© IOM 2007

Living conditions of the impoverished parents of one of the trafficked children.

Ten of the rescued children remain hospitalized, receiving treatment for malnutrition and contagious dermatological conditions. Most of the children will require long-term psychological support to overcome the trauma of the physical abuse and the separation from their families for periods ranging from many months to two years. Some children are further distressed by the separation from their siblings; 11 brothers and sisters of the rescued children are still at the crèche.Although initial estimates by IBERS of the number of children still awaiting rescue were put at more than 40, officials now believe there are about 100 children there in urgent need of medical assistance. The agency’s limited financial means are hampering the immediate rescue of these children.

IOM is now urgently seeking additional funding in order to support Haitian authorities in their efforts to rescue the remaining children and to provide long-term reintegration assistance to child victims of trafficking although the Organization has received some funding from the Canadian government and the United Nations’ Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF) to enhance counter-trafficking law enforcement capacity and to provide assistance to child victims of trafficking in volatile areas respectively.

Funds would also be used to raise awareness of human trafficking in areas like Jeremie, an impoverished, isolated and desolate district in the south west of Haiti and which is particularly affected by the problem. Many families have between six and eight children and the parents are often unable to meet the most basic needs such as food, healthcare and education.

“If urgent sensitization measures are not carried out in the region, there is a risk that destitute parents will continue to give their children away and these ruthless traffickers will continue to thrive in Haiti’s more destitute areas,” says Geslet Bordes, manager of IOM’s child trafficking programme in Haiti.

IOM and the Pan-American Development Foundation (PADF), in coordination with Haitian authorities, assisted in the return of the 48 children to their homes last week in Jeremie. IOM is also providing financial support for the immediate medical and psychological care of the children as well as reintegration assistance for both the children and their parents. This includes the payment of educational fees of school-aged children for one year while parents will be given micro-grants and training to set up small businesses to ease financial worries during the initial period of return.

Since 2005, IOM has assisted with the return and re-integration of 121 children victims of trafficking in Haiti with funding from the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). This IOM programme also carries out family tracing, evaluation and reunification, educational/vocational support in addition to giving micro-enterprise grants to parents/caretakers to prevent re-trafficking. Where family reunification is not possible, children are placed in shelters.

For more information, please contact:

Geslet Bordes
IOM Port au Prince
Tel: +509 244 1218; 490 0505;


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