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Official in Sudan joins chorus of UN concern about attempt to transfer children

Official in Sudan joins chorus of UN concern about attempt to transfer children

The United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator in Sudan today added her voice to that of other UN officials condemning the recent attempt of a French non-governmental organization (NGO) to remove more than 100 young children from neighbouring Chad.

“Such actions contravene all international laws and standards on the movement of children and infringe on the humanitarian principles we stand for as the United Nations,” the Coordinator, Ameerah Haq, said in a statement issued in Khartoum, the Sudanese capital.

“It is unacceptable to see children taken out of their home countries without compliance with national and international laws. The UN is currently assisting in the identification of these children and their places of origin, so that reunification with their relatives can take place.”

Ms. Haq’s remarks follow earlier statements from the UN system in Chad and from Ann Veneman, the Executive Director of the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), criticizing the actions of Arche de Zoe in trying to transfer 103 children – who range in age from one to 10 years old – out of eastern Chad and into France for adoption last month.

On 25 October Chadian authorities prevented the children from leaving the town of Abeche and arrested members of Arche de Zoe as well.

Ms. Haq noted that the UN and its partner agencies have since been helping Chad to protect the welfare of the children, who may originate from villages near the country’s border with the war-torn Darfur region of western Sudan.

“Assistance has included provision of nutritional supplements, medical assistance and supplies, as well as other items such as impregnated bed nets, blankets, mats, clothes and recreational materials and activities.

“In Chad and in Sudan, the UN and national and international organizations have been effectively responding to humanitarian needs. We must continue to work together with partners in government to ensure that advances in child protection, health, and education are not derailed by the actions of an individual organization.”