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Statement attributable to UNICEF on developments in Chad

NEW YORK, 7 November 2007 - UNICEF has repeatedly condemned the attempt by an international non-governmental organization, Arche de Zoé, to airlift children from Chad to France. This action contravened international norms, practices and laws.

UNICEF and its partners are working with the Government of Chad to provide immediate care and protection to the children involved and are working with the authorities to reunite them with their families and their communities as quickly as possible.

It has just come to light, as a result of an ongoing internal UNICEF review begun on 26 October, that a recently-hired junior international staff member in UNICEF’s Abeche field office provided a small amount of food supplements and equipment for babies (valued at $130) on 24 September 2007, in response to an urgent request made by people identifying themselves as representatives of Children Rescue.

The French Government has indicated that Children Rescue was the name under which Arche de Zoé was operating in Chad.

UNICEF procedures were not followed in the provision of this material. Senior staff in Chad were not informed and no formal or informal agreement existed between Children Rescue (or Arche de Zoé) and UNICEF.

The provision of this material was motivated by the desire to provide life-saving support to purportedly malnourished children. However this contravened UNICEF rules and procedures and should not be interpreted as recognition of the organization by UNICEF.

The staff member also advises that she was not informed that this organization planned to remove the children from Chad. Had UNICEF known that the non-governmental organization planned to remove the children from the country it would have advised the relevant authorities.

Note to editors: The assistance to Children’s Rescue consisted of:
- one (1) carton F100 therapeutic milk;
- one (1) carton F75 therapeutic milk;
- 50 Mid Upper Arm Circumference Tapes (MURC) to screen for malnutrition.

For further information please contact:
Geoffrey Keele, UNICEF NY, +212 326 7583, gkeele@unicef.org




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