Child protection laws must be respected, Ban Ki-moon says after abduction case

8 November 2007 –

The recent attempt by a French non-governmental organization (NGO) to remove more than 100 children from Chad underlines the need to ensure that international laws relating to the protection of children are fully respected, said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

In voicing his concern over the incident, Mr. Ban joins senior UN officials in the region who have already expressed their strong reaction to the actions of the NGO Arche de Zoé. Last month, the organization tried to transfer 103 children – who range in age from one to 10 years old – out of eastern Chad and into France for adoption, a move deemed “illegal and totally irresponsible” by the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

Chadian authorities prevented the children from leaving the town of Abeche and arrested members of Arche de Zoé.

“The Secretary-General believes that this incident underscores the urgent need for all concerned individuals, organizations and institutions to fully respect international legal instruments on the protection of children,” according to a statement issued today by his spokesperson.

Mr. Ban expressed his support for the ongoing efforts by the Chadian Government to find a solution to the incident by addressing the immediate needs of the children, attempting to quickly identify and reunite them with their families, and ensuring that proper legal processes are followed.

The UN and its partner agencies have been helping Chad to protect the welfare of the children, who may originate from villages near the country’s border with the war-torn Darfur region of western Sudan.

Mr. Ban also offered his assurances that UN humanitarian assistance will continue to be provided to vulnerable civilians in Chad, including for the hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs), refugees and host communities.

“He is confident that the Government of Chad will continue to work closely with the UN and its partners to address humanitarian and development needs in the country promptly,” the statement added.

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