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Last Updated: Friday, 16 April, 2004, 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK
Madagascar breaks child traffic ring
By Tim Healy
BBC, Antananarivo

Police in Madagascar have rescued 11 babies between the ages of three weeks and nine months who were in the process of being sent abroad.

Newly born babies
Child trafficking is on the increase in Madagascar

The rescue followed a raid on a house in the capital Antananarivo where eight men were arrested and charged following a police inquiry on illegal child trafficking.

The illicit acquisition and adoption of babies has increased during the last four years in Madagascar, according to Director of Judicial Police Mr Albert Rakotondravao.

The eight accused Malagasy men are alleged to be part of an illegal adoption ring that offers financial incentives of up to $800 for every young baby they find.

Mr Rakotondravao said this can be partly attributed to poverty as poor young single mothers are prepared to give up a child in return for cash.

Rubbish heaps

According to the police, the majority of babies are destined to be adopted by couples from France.

The French couples are often unaware of the illegality as genuine documents are usually provided by corrupt government officials working with the traffickers.

Steve Wilkinson, founder of the single mothers' home Akany Avoko, told me that many of the babies at his organisation were from mothers who may have up to seven children and cannot afford to keep any more.

Mr Wilkinson said in some rare cases he receives week-old babies that have been abandoned on rubbish heaps.

The Akany Avoko centre receives up to 100 requests for young babies each year.




SEE ALSO:
Country profile: Madagascar
12 Mar 04  |  Country profiles


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