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Warning as Unicef chief fears children sex traffic

The head of Unicef warned that people may still be trying to smuggle children out of Haiti and said protecting youngsters who survived the earthquake is the top concern of the UN children's agency.

Ann Veneman said that Unicef is starting a programme to identify children who lost or can't find their parents. It is not known how many children have been orphaned in the diaster.

The group is also working with other groups to put children who are alone into facilities where they can receive food, water and psychological help, she said.

"This is a children's emergency," she said.

Ms Veneman, who visited Haiti last week, said in every humanitarian crisis there's a risk that children will be trafficked out of the country for sexual exploitation, adoption, child labour or other illegal purposes. In Haiti, she said, "this is a big concern".


Last week, ten Americans were charged with kidnapping and criminal association for trying to take 33 children into the neighbouring Dominican Republic on January 29 without proper documentation.

The Baptist missionaries said they were heading to a Dominican orphanage following Haiti's devastating quake, and had only good intentions.

Ms Veneman said Unicef learned of some other instances "where there is concern that children may not have (had) the necessary documents when they left".

At the airport in Port-au-Prince and the border with the Dominican Republic, specially trained officials are now checking documents, which Ms Veneman said should make a difference.