Tuesday, January 04, 2005


Tsunami orphans face kidnap threat

Tsunami orphans could be targeted by criminal gangs who want to sell them, child protection experts have warned.

The United Nations children's agency, Unicef, fears gangs are posing as aid agencies or family friends amid rumours of a text message in circulation which has put 300 orphans "up for sale".
Indonesia has banned the transfer of children under 16 from the devastated province of Aceh.
Unicef said it had received several reports of criminals offering kidnapped children from Aceh for sale or adoption.

John Budd, Unicef spokesman in Indonesia, told the BBC News website there had been one confirmed case of child smuggling.

He said there were also unconfirmed reports of up to 20 other children being taken to Malaysia, and possibly hundreds to Jakarta.

Mr Budd added: "I don't think you could have a more vulnerable child on Earth than a child in this situation.

"A young child who has gone through what they have witnessed will be barely surviving in terms of psychological health."

Mr Budd stressed that at least some of these children could have been taken by people who were simply well-meaning.

But Unicef is very concerned that others were being abducted by organised gangs posing as NGOs or family friends.

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