Wednesday, October 31, 2007

European group accussed of enslaving Chadian and Darfurian children

This is a prime example of why African nations are reluctant to allow European aide workers to have free reign in areas that are war torn or stricken with severe poverty. Usually, the primary concerns are that such groups use relief work as a cover to prostelyze the natives or are spies of foreign governments under the cloak of Samaritanism.

Chadians protest children case, cite "slave trade"

Wed Oct 31, 2007 8:05am EDT

By Stephanie Hancock

ABECHE, Chad, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Chadians chanting "no to the slave trade, no to child trafficking" protested on Wednesday against a French group accused of trying to illegally fly children from the central African country to Europe.

Several hundred angry locals gathered outside the governor's office in the eastern town of Abeche, where nine French nationals and seven Spaniards were arrested last week as they tried to fly 103 children out of the impoverished state.

"We can't accept this act of barbarity, of vandalism. Whether in the 8th century or the 20th century there shouldn't be these kinds of acts in Africa," shouted one protester.

The detained French are members of a group called Zoe's Ark which said it wanted to place orphans aged 3-10 years from Sudan's war-torn Darfur region with European families.

The scandal has triggered outrage among Chadians, with many on the barren border with Sudan questioning the motives of scores of foreign humanitarian groups that work with refugees who have fled years of conflict in Darfur.

Families of children missing in eastern Chad, itself riven by conflict and sheltering some 230,000 Sudanese refugees from Darfur, arrived at the orphanage where the 103 children are being held in the hope of finding lost relatives.

"I can assure you that the Chadian government ... is aware of your complaints and is putting in place all the necessary judicial measures to investigate this issue," Abeche governor Tourka Ramadan Karo told the crowd.

In a bid to calm anger against former colonial power France, he emphasised the group responsible was acting independently and said the French government was helping with investigations.(MORE)

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