Sunday, January 31, 2010
Statement on Child Protection in Haiti
WESTPORT, Conn. (Jan. 31, 2010) — Save the Children is working quickly to uncover and gather information about 33 children reportedly stopped at the border of Haiti and the Dominican Republic with members of an American organization attempting to take them out of the country illegally.
Save the Children is coordinating with government officials and colleagues at the United Nations to ensure the very best interests of these children are protected.
Thousands if not hundreds of thousands of children may be separated from their parents and families by the earthquake that devastated Haiti on January 12, due to death, injury or the sheer chaos created by the disaster.
These children are at acute risk of trafficking, sexual exploitation and serious emotional distress. Save the Children is working with the United Nations, the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Haitian government to assess the status and needs of these children so that they can be reunited with their families.
Calls for Moratorium on New Adoptions from Haiti
Save the Children is calling for a moratorium on any new adoptions of children affected by the earthquake to ensure every child has been given the best possible chance of being reunited with their family. This moratorium does not apply to children in Haiti already in the adoption process.
Read Save the Children's Statement on Adoption in Haiti.
For those children who have indeed lost both parents, it is almost always in their best interests to remain with their relatives and extended families. UN guidelines recommend at least two years are spent tracing lost families before adoption should be considered.
According to Deb Barry, a child protection expert at Save the Children who is responding to the crisis in Haiti, "The instinct to swoop in and rescue children may be a natural impulse, but it cannot be the solution for the tens of thousands of children left vulnerable by the Haiti earthquake."
She cautioned, "Although it is unclear at the moment how many children have been separated from their families, the possibility of a child being mistakenly labelled an orphan in the chaotic aftermath of the disaster is incredibly high."
She added, "No matter how horrific the situation looks in Haiti to concerned observers, the full process of reuniting children with parents and relatives must be completed."
Save the Children is working in Haiti to protect vulnerable children, providing safe places for them to play in the temporary camps. The organization is also working with the United Nations to run temporary care centers providing food, shelter and support for separated children while every effort is being made to trace their parents and relatives.