Haiti Earthquake update: the human trafficking problem

In this Haiti Earthquake update: the human trafficking problem. As Haiti works to recover from the 7.0 Earthquake an the estimated 50 aftershocks (many over 5 on the Richter Scale), another problem has surfaced: fears of human trafficking.

“Human Trafficking” is the inhumane process of kidnapping primarily women and children for the sex trade, “forced” marriages, or bonded labor markets like domestic servitude, sweat shops, and agricultural plantations. Since the Haiti Earthquake, UNICEF has reported incidents of child trafficking in the wake of the thousands of newly orphaned kids after the Haiti Earthquake.

Human trafficking was a problem even before the Haiti Earthquake. With an 80 percent poverty rate in Haiti, a poor family sending or “trafficking” its children to wealthier families was common. With the new family the child would live often in substandard, unsupervised or policed abusive conditions.

Now, with escaped Haitian prisoners (because of the quake), little security infrastructure relative to the population, and again a large number of unaccounted for, but living minors, the fear and reports of allegations of child trafficking are on the rise.

UNICEF is not the only organization or person complaining about the poor state of security for kids in Haiti. On CNN’s Larry King Live, Anderson Cooper reported from Haiti, explaining that many kids are in what he calls “ad hoc” groups, with little or no established organizational oversight. That has led to the kind of reported activity that was the basis of UNICEF’s to this writing unsubstantiated charges.

I called and emailed UNICEF Communications Representative Alissa Pinck in the hope that more light could be shed on this problem. The question is, does UNICEF know who was doing the alleged trafficking and were they brought to justice? It’s reported that 15 children were unaccounted for as of this writing in Haiti hospitals. But if those children belonged to wayward parents who survived the Haiti Earthquake, is it possible their parents may have simply arrived to get them?

With all of the uncertainty and chaos, it’s hard to tell which end is up with this terrible issue in Haiti. But given Haiti’s past, human and child trafficking is likely to remain a problem unless international forces step in.

Stay tuned.

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