Haiti earthquake: orphans for sale for $50
Orphans in Haiti are being offered for sale to foreigners for as little as £30 amid warnings that up to one million children in the country have been left vulnerable to abuse and trafficking in the wake of the earthquake.
By Nick Allen in Haiti
Published: 9:17AM GMT 28 Jan 2010
Haitian orphans at the UN compound in Port-au-Prince. Photo: Wolfgang Rattay/REUTERS In a remote area north of Port-au-Prince, a man was reported to have offered to sell a young boy to a Canadian man for just $50.
The first confirmed case of a child being offered for sale since Haiti was devastated by a 7.0-magnitude earthquake on Jan 12 took place near Gonaives, 150km north of Port-au-Prince.
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Meanwhile, in camps around the capital there were several reports of men being lynched after being accused by earthquake victims of trying to steal infants from tents.
The incident near Gonaives raised fears that child trafficking gangs could move into desperately poor rural areas that have yet to be properly reached by aid agencies. The gangs are also be less likely to be picked up by authorities there.
Abduction of children by child traffickers was already a chronic problem in pre-earthquake Haiti, where thousands were handed by their families into lives of domestic servitude.
"There are an estimated one million unaccompanied or orphaned children, or children who lost one parent," said Kate Conradt, a spokesman for Save the Children. "They are extremely vulnerable."
As fears for the safety of Haitian orphans grew a group of 78 children sleeping in the street outside their shattered orphanage in the capital were being guarded at night by a group of local people.
The bodies of 56 other children remained buried under a three-storey section of the collapsed orphanage in the Carrefour slum area.
The youngest victims, Cedric Francois and James Alcius, were both just five months old.
Of the survivors, many had wounds to their heads and limbs. They sleep on blankets laid in the street. Three plastic sheets provided by Unicef have been strung from trees.
"If it rains it will be terrible," said Eviline Louis-Jacques, 61, who runs the Notre Dame de la Nativite orphanage.
"There are 56 dead over there," she said pointing to a pile of rubble. "Most of them were babies. That's why they were in there, they were sleeping. But I have 78 left."
Vanessa Line, three, was rescued after spending two days stuck in the rubble. She stares blankly ahead and does not speak, clearly traumatised by her ordeal.
Naika Simon, six, who suffered head wounds when timber fell on her, said: "It hurt me and I was crying. I could hear others crying as well. It was dark and I was scared. I miss my mummy and daddy."
Another child, Reginald Gibbs, five, who has a broken leg, was brought to the orphanage by his parents after their home collapsed.
He was already up for legitimate adoption before the earthquake and a family in France is waiting for them.
His father, Daniel Gibbs, 50, said: "He is suffering. We want him to go to France as soon as possible because he will get better care."
Haiti's orphanages have also become targets for people desperate for food, water and medical supplies. Maison de Lumiere, which has 50 orphans, came under attack from a group of 20 armed men but security guards drove them off.
Charities and aid agencies are only supplying the orphanages with a few days of food and water at a time in case they are looted.