Thousands of children unaccounted for since Haiti’s earthquake are at risk of falling prey to child traffickers, aid agencies have wearned, as fears were raised over at least 15 children who have vanished from hospitals within the past few days.
Unicef, the UN children’s agency, warned that "traffickers fish in pools of vulnerability. We know from past experience that trafficking happens in the chaos that usually follows emergencies." A Unicef adviser, Jean Luc Legrand, said he knew of at least 15 cases of children disappearing from hospitals.
Save the Children, World Vision and the British Red Cross have called for an immediate halt to adoptions of Haitian children not approved before the earthquake, warning that child traffickers could exploit the lack of regulation. There has been a surge in offers from well-meaning foreigners.
Rupert Colville, spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, said that child enslavement and trafficking was "an existing problem and could easily emerge as a serious issue over the coming weeks and months".