Before the quake, nearly a quarter of a million children were traded by their parents in exchange for school tuition, while a further third of a million were simply discarded and lived in orphanages. Now, experts fear, they may be sold by the thousands.
As the desperation for food and water in Haiti goes into free fall, experts warn that children may be sold or exchanged for goods. Footage from the BBC illustrates just how the situation is deteriorating. Western governments moved this week to gear up adoptions that were in process prior to January 12. Soon to be adopted children were air-lifted to the Netherlands, France, Canada, and other points north and in Europe.
US Homeland Security Secretary, Janet Napolitano, has stated that Haitian children will be allowed into the US for medical attention under a fast track visa process. The arch-diocese of Miami has proposed a 1960’s-style airlift of orphans, to be connected with the large Haitian community in that city.
But in the rush to move children from Haiti into homes abroad, children’s rights organizations like the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, warn this could lead to a surge in trafficking. Paper work and documents for orphans were lost in the quake, and in a country where children were being sold for school tuition even before the disaster, they warn that documents will be forged or waived and transform expedited visas into yet another venue for the sale of children by their parents.