Chad’s ‘orphans’ returning home
Chad has given permission for 103 children who were caught up in a trafficking scandal to be reunited with their families, Unicef says.
Six French aid workers were convicted of trying to abduct them, describing them as orphans from war-torn Darfur.
The children have been staying in an orphanage in Chad, and are to be handed over to relatives in the coming days.
Their return home has been delayed until Chadian officials could indentify the correct guardians, Unicef says.
The UN agency said the French charity involved, Zoe’s Ark, had left very little paperwork about the children’s identities.
Jean-Francois Basse, a spokesman for Unicef in Chad, said that although some of the children were orphans, they were able to locate the guardians for most of the children.
“Out of the 103 children we were able to locate those who were in charge of the children for 97 of them,” he told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme.
The children hail from Chadian regions close to the country’s border with Sudan.
The scandal emerged when it was revealed that most of the 21 girls and 82 boys were from Chad, and had relatives who were still alive.
During their trial in the Chadian capital N’Djamena last year, the aid workers said they had been tricked into thinking the children were from the troubled Sudanese province of Darfur.
The six have since been returned to France to serve out their jail terms.
The case led to several anti-French protests in Chad, a former French colony.
The French army last month helped government forces fight off a rebel attack on N’Djamena.
Chadian President Idriss Deby says he will consider pardoning the aid workers on condition the children’s families receive compensation.
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