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Last Updated: Tuesday, 24 August, 2004, 09:17 GMT 10:17 UK
SLeone 'child-smuggler' arrests
Children in Sierra Leone
The 10-year civil war has left many orphans and great poverty
Three people have been arrested and charged with smuggling 29 children to the United States for adoption, say police in Sierra Leone.

A senior policeman told the BBC the suspects used to work for a local aid agency running orphanages in the north.

He said two suspects then set up an orphanage, and persuaded poor parents to give up their children for adoption.

The police allege the children were then smuggled to a neighbouring country and flown to the United States.

The arrests followed an Interpol investigation into child trafficking in West Africa.

The remaining children from the home have been placed with social services, say the police.

The authorities say they are doing their best to track down the children in the US and get them returned.

The United Nations Children's Fund estimates that about 200,000 West African children are trafficked each year; most are taken to Europe or sold into slavery as domestic workers.




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