JAKARTA: Human traffickers are preying on children made homeless or orphaned by the tsunami disaster in the province of Aceh, the United Nations Children's Fund (Unicef) said yesterday.
Unicef's spokesman for Indonesia, John Budd, said there had been one confirmed case of a child being smuggled out of Aceh to Medan for trafficking.
And he said Unicef's Malaysian office had received an SMS yesterday advertising 300 orphans from Aceh aged between three and 10 for sale.
“It's chilling,” Budd said. “What this indicates is that they have got children or they have a network where they can identify a child and take them.”
The Indonesian government has also moved to head off the trafficking of children from Aceh by placing a ban on any child under the age of 16 leaving Aceh without their parents.
“The aim of the travel ban is to ensure there is no adoption and to prevent any sale and trafficking of children from Aceh,” Social Affairs Ministry spokesman Heri Krisitanto said.
A ban on any adoptions in Aceh has also been imposed for the same reason.
National police detective chief Commissioner General Suyitno Landung also said yesterday that the issue was of deep concern and authorities were trying to register all homeless or orphaned children so they could be tracked.
“We have deployed officers to relief centres to collect data on the children,” detikom on-line quoted him as saying.
The government has estimated that 35,000 children have been made homeless, orphaned or separated from their parents in Aceh, which remains in chaos more than a week after the disaster.
Budd said there had been many reports of child trafficking in Aceh over the past few days that Unicef, local NGOs and the Indonesian government had been trying to confirm. – AFP