Sierra Leone parents demand kids’ return

Source: tp://  
2011-02-02 12:05
Freetown – Scores of relatives of a group of 29 children whom they say were illegally adopted from Sierra Leone 14 years ago stormed the children’s ministry Tuesday to demand the return of their offspring.

Families chanted “we want our kids back” and “return our children fast”, five months after government pledged to get to the bottom of trafficking claims through a commission which has yet to begin its work.

A weeping Bintu Koroma said her six-year-old child was taken from her on the pretext of protecting her from the war that was then raging in Makeni, in the north of the country.

“I am fed up with getting no clear detail as to what has happened to my dear Posseh. Nobody is telling us the truth and it is only the government that can now help us to get to the truth of the matter.”

The government promised in September that the creation of a three-man fact-finding committee headed by a high court judge would make a fresh attempt to clear up the case.

The commission would investigate the incident in which some 40 parents overall claim that their children were taken to the United States for adoption without their consent by a local NGO, Help a Needy Child International (HANCI).

HANCI was established in 1996, setting up child survival centres in Freetown and Makeni where it offered services of schooling from kindergarten to tertiary level.

When civil war broke out, parents sent their children to the organisation for protection and after the war, which ended in 2002, parents allege when they came to fetch their children they were told they had been adopted.

HANCI has repeatedly claimed the adoptions were legal.

New Social Minister Denis Sandy said the commission was being held up due to logistical reasons.

“None of these people would frame a story that each of their 29 children were taken for adoption illegally and insist that their children be returned,” he said.