UMCOR’s Response to the Attempted Abduction of Children in Chad
NEW YORK, Nov. 21, 2007—Alleged attempts of a French humanitarian organization to abduct children living along the Chad-Sudan border for adoption in Europe are deeply troubling to the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR).
Several members of L'Arche de Zoé (Zoe's Ark) were detained by Chad in late October for attempting to fly out 103 children they claimed were refugee orphans from the Darfur region of Sudan. The obvious plan was to put the children up for adoption.
The government of Chad asserts that the children are not orphans but each has at least one living parent. Some of those arrested have been released while others have not, according to the Reuter’s news agency.
A considerable number of Sudanese have sought refuge in Chad from the civil strife that has continued in Darfur for some four years.
UMCOR has worked in South Darfur since 2005 and expressed “indignation” that a humanitarian group would use the unstable situation in the region to abduct children.
“This is a serious violation of children’s rights,” the organization said.
The full text of the UMCOR statement follows:
UMCOR learned of the attempted evacuation by the Zoe's Ark with indignation and expresses our profound concern over the recent incident where Sudanese children were abducted. This is a serious violation of children’s rights.
UMCOR deplores such acts that significantly undermine the commitments which the majority of international non-governmental organizations in Sudan have shown in providing humanitarian assistance to the needy population, in respect of the national laws and international standards.
UMCOR works very closely with the Sudanese communities to assure that their basic needs are met. We are a signatory to the International Code of Conduct, and implement our programs per the Core Values and Guiding Principles therein. We have always respected and upheld the rights of children in the communities we serve, and we will continue to integrate these fundamental principles into our work.
UMCOR has been working in South Darfur since 2005, providing relief and development programs such as, general food distribution, shelter construction, agricultural support, skills training, primary school reconstruction and rehabilitation, and water point construction and rehabilitation.