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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Most Chadian 'Orphans' Had Parents

APSudanese boys protesting the removal of children from Chad outside the French Embassy in Khartoum on Thursday.
N'DJAMENA, Chad -- Most of the 103 African children a French charity attempted to fly from Chad to Europe appear to have at least one living parent, UN agencies said Thursday.

A French group calling itself Zoe's Ark was stopped last week from flying the children from Sudan's Darfur to Europe, where the group said it intended to place them with host families.

Seventeen Europeans have been detained by Chadian authorities, including six French citizens who were charged with kidnapping. The group says its intentions were purely humanitarian.

Though Zoe's Ark's intentions appeared to have been humanitarian, the incident has focused attention on the possibility that African children were being taken abroad by sex or labor traffickers because of poor policing of international adoptions. The apparent assumption that the children would be better off in Europe than with their families also has drawn criticism.

Fallout from the scandal reached across Africa to the Republic of Congo, where officials said they were suspending international adoptions because of events in Chad.

Republic of Congo Justice Minister Emmanuel Aime Yoka said late Wednesday that the Chad incident occurred only a few days after 17 children from the Republic of Congo were adopted by Spanish families. He said the two events were not connected but that the coincidence of timing led the government to re-examine its policies.

At least one human rights group in Republic of Congo has been calling for action on suspected child trafficking in the country since August.

Aid workers who interviewed the children at an orphanage in eastern Chad where the children are being cared for said most of the children came from villages on the Chadian-Sudanese border region.