I have recently received the statement set out below regarding inter-country adoption from Haiti. Sent from Andy Elvin, Chief Executive of CFAB (Children and families Across Borders), the UK branch of the international social service network, the statement is in line with guidance drawn up by UNICEF in association with other international child welfare organisations in the wake of the 2004 tsunami.
CFAB is asking MEPs to vote against any resolutions before the European Parliament that support removing children from Haiti’s jurisdiction whilst the humanitarian effort is still being undertaken, except in circumstances where emergency medical treatment is needed. I urge MEPs and others in positions where they may have an influence to take this statement on board.
Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, we call upon the European Parliament to support a moratorium on international adoptions from the country. The disaster not only caused catastrophic destruction and death, it has also produced further trauma by splitting up families, leaving many children alone. “We are worried about people who come to pick up our children, it has happened here,” stated a mother to an aid worker this week. A distraught father looking for his child said: “I tried to look for her, but I couldn’t find any information. It’s like my soul has disappeared with my daughter.” These are just a few of the extremely worried family members who are seeking their lost children.
Given the tragedy that has unfolded, many people react instinctively and want to give injured and defenceless children what they seem to have lost, a caring family. It is vital for MEPs and other key EU decision makers to realise that it should not be assumed that children in an emergency situation are orphans, and are available for adoption.
As long as the fate of a child’s parents and/or other close relatives cannot be verified, each separated child must be considered as still having close relatives who are alive.
The EU should support measures that
– prevent separation of children from parents and their family either inadvertently at aid distribution sites, or through adoptions,
– insure a register of unaccompanied and separated children, tracing and reunification,
– place vulnerable children in safe and appropriate care arrangements within Haiti while the child’s family is traced,
Taking children out of a country in the midst of chaos, can also compound the acute trauma that they already suffered and can inflict long-term damage on their chances of recovery. As well as creating devastating loss for their parents and family members.
MEPs should note that immediate action to help children is already accepted by the European Council, in its Conclusions on the promotion and protection of the rights of the child in the European Union’s external action. The Council highlighted the need for effective and quick interventions during crises and emergencies situations, including measures to both prevent the separation of children and to re-establish links with their families. This is in line with the “Guidelines for the alternative care of children”, a United Nations framework for non emergency and emergency situations.
Despite these international instruments, in the aftermath of the earthquake, the international community is struggling to provide appropriate care and protection for children and families. We are particularly concerned about the push to fast-track inter-country adoptions. The international community should stand firm on its fundamental principles and take all necessary measures to ensure the implementation of the existing international instruments.
If appropriate measures are not introduced immediately, there is a genuine fear that inept and potentially harmful evacuation efforts can lead to the trafficking of children through inappropriate or unlawful inter-country adoptions in emergency situations.
We therefore urge the European Parliament to call for a moratorium of international adoptions from Haiti and to support measures to prevent unnecessary separation of families.
We also urge the European Parliament to call for coordinated efforts with the Government of Haiti as well as all local, national and international governmental and non-governmental agencies to take all necessary measures to mainstream the protection of child rights in all their actions following the devastating earthquake in Haiti.