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UNICEF Deplores Jump In Haitian Kids Kidnappings

UNICEF deplores spike in number of kidnappings of Haitian children

5 June 2008 - The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) has joined a national call across Haiti to halt the surge this year in the number of kidnappings of children in the impoverished country.

"The kidnapping of children has increased exponentially over the past few days and weeks," UNICEF's representative in Haiti, Annamaria Laurini, said in a statement issued yesterday in Port-au-Prince, the capital.

At least 50 children have been kidnapped already this year, compared to 31 for the first five months of last year. More than half the victims have been girls.

Yesterday's nationwide call, which included a public demonstration, follows the recent murder of a 16-year-old hostage and the lynching and rape of other hostages, including infants.

"There is no acceptable motive or rationale for these crimes as there is no acceptable excuse that they should be allowed to continue with flagrant impunity," Ms. Laurini said.

In 1994 Haiti ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, which demands that children be protected and their families allowed to live in an environment free from harm.

The UN peacekeeping mission in Haiti (known as MINUSTAH) has been working with the national police force to dismantle criminal gangs wanted for kidnappings, murders and other crimes.

Last week, in a joint operation in Port-au-Prince, they arrested four men suspected of forming the heart of a criminal gang known as Chochonet.

ENDS

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