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Children in French NGO scandal to rejoin families

Latest update : 2008-03-07

Over 100 African youngsters will rejoin their families some five months after a French charity Zoe's Ark tried to take the children out of Chad, claiming they were Darfur refugees, UNICEF says.

More than 100 African children will be reunited with their families some five months after a French charity sought to take them out of Chad, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said Friday.
In a statement, UNICEF said it had met with Chad's ministry of social affairs to discuss the youngsters' fate, and that a team will travel to the eastern towns of Abeche, Adre and Tine to facilitate the reunification process.
The 103 children -- almost all of whom are from Chad -- have been staying at a UNICEF orphanage in Chad's capital N'Djamena in the wake of the scandal involving the Zoe's Ark charity, which claimed that they were Darfur refugees.
The charity's head Eric Breteau and five colleagues were sentenced in December to eight years hard labour by a Chad court for the attempted airlift last year, before being sent to France to serve their sentence.
The Zoe's Ark members were detained on October 25 as they were about to put the 103 children on a flight from the eastern Chad town of Abeche to France.
The charity staff said they believed the children they tried to fly out from the Darfur region, across the Chad border in Sudan, in October were orphans.
But international aid staff later found almost all the children to be Chadian and to have at least one living parent.
The case raised tensions between France and Chad, a former French colony, as Paris prepares to spearhead a 3,500-strong EU peacekeeping force in eastern Chad to protect refugee camps in the region bordering Darfur.

Date created : 2008-03-07