Wednesday, January 05, 2005


I posted yesterday on my concerns about an increase in child trafficking in SE Asia as a result of the tsunami. These concerns have been addressed by the UN, UNICEF, the Indonesian government and the Old Media. Here are a few stories and links:

Indonesian authorities posted police guards at refugee camps today to protect children orphaned by last week's tsunamis from child traffickers. The UN confirmed two attempts to snatch children in Indonesia's devastated Aceh province, the first independent verification of widespread fears that children across the Indian Ocean region could fall prey to traffickers. The Indonesian government banned children under 16 from leaving the country on Monday in an attempt to halt a potential trade in tsunami orphans.

2 - BBC - "The UN children's agency, Unicef, has begun registering thousands of tsunami orphans in Aceh in a bid to protect them from human traffickers."

3 - TIMES of India - Stating that care for separated children must also be given high priority in the all relief plans, she said finding children who have lost families, identifying them and reuniting them with their extended families and communities was a challenge to be met with. Relief efforts must also ensure that children were protected from exploitation in tumultous environments like those in the tsunami zone, where families wre broken apart, incomes lost and 'hope was in short supply'. "In some affected countries, reports have been emerging of opportunistic child traffickers moving in to exploit vulnerable children. UNICEF is working closely with local and national authorities to head off these criminals," Bellamy said.

4 - UK Telegraph - Police guard tsunami orphans amid kidnap fears (Filed: 05/01/2005)

Indonesian police are guarding refugee camps in tsunami-hit regions to protect orphaned children from being kidnapped by trafficking gangs. United Nations charity workers have confirmed two attempts to snatch children from the devastated Aceh province. Indonesia has introduced restrictions on children leaving the country in an attempt to prevent youngsters being sold into forced labour or sexual slavery in rich neighbouring countries such as Malaysia and Singapore. John Budd, Unicef spokesman, said there were unconfirmed reports of up to 20 other youngsters being taken to Malaysia, and possibly hundreds to Jakarta. He said: "I don't think you could have a more vulnerable child on Earth than a child in this situation. A young child who has gone through what they have witnessed will be barely surviving in terms of psychological health." Unicef, plans to set up a registration scheme for orphans in the area. Criminal gangs are believed to be posing as aid agencies or family friends and a text message is rumoured to be in circulation advertising an auction of 300 orphans. An estimated 35,000 children in Aceh have lost one or both parents in the tragedy.

THOUSANDS of vulnerable children orphaned by the south Asia tsunami disaster now have to deal with another threat: gangs of unscrupulous human traffickers looking for easy pickings, humanitarian organisations said today. "Experience shows that the risks of child trafficking grows in a crisis situation where there are population movements and where the environment that normally protects the child collapses," said Marc Vergara of UNICEF. "There are no parents, no family, no school, no village," the spokesman for the United Nations children's fund in Geneva said. As a result of the threat, the UN is developing a program to register every displaced child in Indonesia's tsunami-hit province of Aceh in an effort to stop human traffickers from smuggling them out, of the country.

I'm a little relieved... I hope that the UN's efforts in this regard are more effective than their efforts in other areas: the IAEA has been awful; and the UN's refugee offices in Africa and the Middle East - and the Baltics - are as corrupt as any organization in the world; in fact, they've been involved in THEIR OWN sex scandals. So... I hope the increased scrutiny that is concomittant with the vast nature of the recent tsunami will make it more difficult for the agencies involved to do more harm than good. I PRAY SO!

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