Three leading aid groups working to bring relief to the people of Haiti have appealed for an end to the adoption of children from the Caribbean country, saying that many children have become separated from their families but are not orphans.
Described as British charities by AFP but in reality international organizations, although CNN notes that it is a unit of the British Red Cross that has joined Save the Children and World Vision in making the appeal and has filed its report from London, the three groups have said within the last 24-48 hours that new adoptions of Haitian children should stop immediately.
Emphasizing that the priority must be reuniting children with any of their family members that survived the earthquake on January 12, the groups issued a joint statement that explained:Any hasty new adoptions would risk permanently breaking up families, causing long-term damage to already vulnerable children, and could distract from aid efforts in Haiti
Justin Byworth, Chief Executive of World Vision, has warned of the dangers of traffickers, a problem already highlighted on Digital Journal, and of children being abused and exploited as a result of the poverty that they are facing. He added that he is concerned not just about children traveling overseas but also those traveling on their own to the Dominican Republic, the country with which Haiti shares the the island of Hispaniola.
Meanwhile the Chief Executive of Save the Children, Jasmine Whitbread, is quoted by CNN as saying:Taking children out of the country would permanently separate thousands of children from their families -- a separation that would compound the acute trauma they are already suffering and inflict long-term damage on their chances of recovery
The three groups, all of them rated highly by the American Institute of Philanthropy with regard to the "portion of their budget going to program services and their fundraising efficiency", have said that fully documented, legal adoptions in progress prior to the earthquake should continue.
France and Canada are two countries AFP identifies as fast-tracking adoptions of children from Haiti, although it is made clear that France is wary of being accused of "kidnapping" children after members of a French charity were alleged to have "trafficked" children from Chad, who were supposedly refugees from the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan.
Those searching for members of their family in the wake of the earthquake in Haiti can visit the Family Links website, set up by the International Committee of the Red Cross, for assistance.