Traffickers targeting Haiti’s children, human organs, Haitian PM says

By Tom Evans, CNN

January 29, 2010

(CNN) — Trafficking of children and human organs is occurring in the
aftermath of the earthquake that devastated parts of Haiti, killed more
than 150,000 people, and left many children orphans, Haitian Prime
Minister Jean-Max Bellerive said Wednesday.

"There is organ trafficking for children and other persons also,
because they need all types of organs," Bellerive said in an exclusive
interview with CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

He did not give specifics, but asked by Amanpour if there is
trafficking of children, Bellerive said, "The reports I received say

Haiti is trying to locate displaced children and register them so they
can either be reunited with other family members or put up for
adoption, Bellerive said.

But, he said, illegal child trafficking is "one of the biggest problems that we have."

Many groups appear to be legitimate, "but a lot of organizations —
they come and they say there were children on the streets. They’re
going to bring them to the [United] States," he said.

Bellerive said he’s trying to work with embassies in Port-au-Prince to protect Haiti’s children from traffickers.

"Any child that is leaving the country has to be validated by the
embassy under a list that they give me, with all the reports," he said.

Speaking at his temporary headquarters in a police station near the
Port-au-Prince Airport, Bellerive said the first thing Haitian
officials seek to confirm is whether the children have adoption papers
before they leave the country.

In Washington, the State Department said Wednesday it is moving cautiously on the issue of adoptions from Haiti.

"We want to be sure that when a child has been identified, that due
diligence has been done to make sure that this is truly an orphan child
and not a child that actually has family," said State Department
Spokesman P.J. Crowley. "Sometimes if you push too hard, too fast there
can be unintended consequences. So we are being very, very careful."

"We respect the sovereignty of Haiti and their right to control the
departure of Haitian children. So we think the system that has been
established is working effectively. I know there is a perception out
there of ‘cut through the red tape.’ But there are very good reasons we
want to make sure this process works well," Crowley said.

On the broader issue of Haitian children, Bellerive told Amanpour the
government will reopen schools Monday in most of the country.

He said there were particular problems in Port-au-Prince.

"We cannot open one school and not the other. But some of the schools
want to operate right now. They say if there are tents — if there are
facilities and we can help them — they are willing to open very

Bellerive also highlighted the critical importance of getting enough
tents and shelters to Haiti before the rainy season begins in May. He
said he didn’t know where all the tents promised by aid agencies and
governments are.

"We have reports that they’ve already sent 20,000 tents maybe, and
20,000 more are on the way. But yesterday, when we didn’t see the tents
and we didn’t see any action to organize the shelters, the president
himself asked to see the storage place and we only counted 3,500 tents."

Bellerive said President Rene Preval asked for 200,000 tents to house
between 400,000 and 500,000 people. "We are very preoccupied about the
consequences of all those people on the street, if it starts to rain."

The prime minister also rejected criticism from within Haiti and
overseas that his government needs to be more visible to the Haitian

"We are in charge. Frankly I don’t understand what that position is
that we are not visible," he said. "I almost feel that I spend more
time talking to radio, television, than I am working."

"I know it’s part of my job and I have to communicate. But I really feel that I have spent too much time doing that."

Bellerive also said he does not believe it’s necessary to relocate the capital to another part of Haiti.

"I have to wait for technical and scientific evaluation, but from what I’ve heard until now, Port-au-Prince will stay there."

"Tokyo is still there, Los Angeles is still there. We just have to
prepare a better constructed Port-au-Prince, a safer Port-au-Prince,"
he said.

He also acknowledged the need for more transparency and new procedures
to prevent corruption in Haiti. But he said 70 to 80 percent of the aid
coming to the country right now does not go through the Haitian

Bellerive said about 90 percent of American aid, for example, goes
through non-governmental organizations. "They are accountable to the
American government, but not to the Haitian government," he said.

The prime minister told Amanpour that he does not believe people overseas are helping Haiti out of a moral obligation.

"I believe it’s a more pragmatic responsibility," he said. "I believe
Haiti could be an interesting market in the midterm. We are 10 million
[people] here and it’s a market."


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