A group of American Baptists have become embroiled in the center of a growing fear in Haiti after the devestating earthquake - human trafficking
Ten men and women were detained in Malpasse
while allegedly attempting to cross the border into the Dominican Republic
with 33 children in tow without proper paperwork, according to officials.
"No children can leave Haiti without proper authorization, and these people did not have that authorization
," Haiti's social affairs minister, Yves Cristalin
, told Reuters.
The church group, most of whom are from Idaho
, were arrested Friday night. They claim to have been taking the children - ranging in age from two months to 12 years old - to an orphanage in the neighboring nation.
"In this chaos the government is in right now, we were just trying to do the right thing
," said Laura Silsby
, a spokesperson for group, to the Associated Press.
were part of the "Haitian Orphan Rescue Mission
," Silsby said. It's goal is to save abandoned children and bring them to a 45-room hotel at Cabarete, a beach resort in the Dominican Republic, which the group claims to be converting into an orphanage.
"We had permission from the Dominican Republic government to bring the children to an orphanage that we have there,
" she told Reuters.
"They accuse us of children trafficking
," Sillsby said. "This is something I would never do. We were not trying to do something wrong.
Haitian officials fear child trafficking could be underway following the devastating earthquake.
Speaking to CNN last week, Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive
said he has received reports of kids being sold, and he believed human organs were also being taken from victims of the quake for profit.
But aid group UNICEF
was quick to refute the claims, saying child trafficking is a major concern in the impoverished nation, but there is no hard evidence to back up the government official's claims.
NY Daily News
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