The French “humanitarian” charity NGO Zoe’s Ark (L’Arche de Zoé) involved in Chad and Darfur is reported to be under investigation by the United Nations, France and Chad for trafficking in black children in the widely under-reported “L’Arche de Zoé affair.” However, the French President intervened to secure the freedom and evacuate French nationals from Chad without even a trial.
Chad has erupted in protests involving mostly students in school uniforms that have been met with tear-gas and anti-riot troops.
Having discovered and criticized the affair, the Chadian President Idriss Déby is under attack for alleging “pedophilia” and “organ trafficking” and for arresting seventeen Europeans intercepted at an airport in Chad attempting to depart to France with 103 “Darfur orphans” aged six to ten. Some of the children were bandaged to suggest injuries that did not exist.
Organ trafficking is the trade in kidneys and other organs—a rampant global trade—that is driven by elite high-paying customers in industrialized nations who can afford to pay tens of thousands of dollars for a life-saving organ. Children and sometimes adults in poor countries are often trafficked for organ "donations", though most are unwilling donors who do not survive the "donation."
The Zoe’s Ark project began fundraising April 28, 2007 to “evacuate 10,000 orphans facing certain death” to France and the United States. Some 300 European’s paid 2000 Euros ($3450) each as “donations” toward logistics costs to receive an orphan. French news reports have said the group raised and spent 550,000 Euros ($US 802,000) on the operation.
After the airplane was intercepted before its departure to France the UN High Commission for Refugees determined the children “were living with their families in communities”—they were neither from Darfur nor were they orphans—and their health was not a serious concern.
On October 24 a group of families were waiting at the airport at Vatry, Marne, France, for the first planeload of children. The plane never arrived. It was stopped as it was preparing to take off from Abeche, near Chad’s border with Sudan, and the 17 Europeans on board were arrested.
The Zoe’s Ark NGO was reportedly provided logistical support by the French military, and they had made numerous trips to villages on the Darfur border offering enticements and taking children. Their access to war-torn regions of the Chad/Darfur border was secured through participation in the international relief consortium and its security apparatus.
Outraged Chadians on the border with Sudan had already been questioning the motives of scores of foreign aid groups that work with Darfur refugees. The few Western press articles that have covered this story have been very brief, and several complained that a “mob” of Chadian mothers were protesting, the unstated suggestion being that they were unruly misfits whose outrage and concern about affluent whites with security details child trafficking their children were unfounded.
International NGOs like Human Rights Watch were quick to jump all over President Idriss Deby, complaining that Chad routinely uses child soldiers in it’s military ranks. The international press overwhelmed the issue of white Europeans trafficking in black children by flooding the market with stories about the hypocrisy of President Idriss Deby.
“These people treat us like animals,” President Deby said of the members of the association L’Arche de Zoé (Zoé’s Ark). President Deby’s lapse in etiquette in speaking the unspeakable truth caused the attention to be shifted to Chad and the failures of its president.
The United Nations IRIN Relief Network news service echoed the widely published criticisms of President Deby. “The statements by President Déby and other Chadian officials about L’Arche de Zoé’s treatment of children are hypocritical,” IRIN reported, “according to many aid workers including Chad researcher for Human Rights Watch (HRW), David Buchbinder.”
IRIN quoted the Human Rights Watch expert to say: “It’s hard to take them seriously when they talk about children’s welfare, when they’re definitely not protecting children the way they should.”
The suggestion of hypocrisy would almost never surface in relation to the nonsensical comments and outright lies that have been uttered on National television by international white leaders like George Bush, Tony Blair or Hillary Clinton. The Human Rights Watch “expert” exercised the badge of privilege secured by his power status as a white human rights expert in Africa and this microcosmic action mirrors the inequitable power dynamic that Human Rights Watch lords over “Third World” economies crippled by U.S./European military, economic, political and ideological might.
International complaints about “child soldiers” are universally leveled against so-called “Third World” countries by affluent “First World” governments, human rights organizations and think tanks. Meanwhile, first world citizens—including the human rights agencies who complain—benefit in countless ways from the projection of U.S. military power into the places where child soldiers are found in the ranks of military forces. U.S. and European military forces have the
luxury of using consenting “adults” aged eighteen and over, and these forces are well fed, provided college educations and the “adventure of a lifetime” in exchange for terms of duty. However, often child soldiers join the ranks of militaries in strife-torn areas because it is the least dangerous place to be and it offers children both a sense of agency and a sense of real power. Meanwhile, U.S. covert forces and Western proxy armies align against less powerful “rebel” forces or national armies, many of which are involved in self-defense for themselves and their families, and child soldiers often enlist to protect their own land or country.
The United Nations and other relief organizations initially denied all knowledge of the Zoe’s Ark NGO but the NGO was registered as an international charity with the U.N. Mission in Sudan.
In perfect synchronicity with the “Save Darfur” chorus, the Zoe’s Ark website today (www.archedezoe.fr/accueil.htm) lists 800,000 children “in mortal danger today who must be saved now!”
Responding to the intense international pressure, French President Nicolas Sarkozy flew to Chad and personally secured the release of seven of the seventeen who were arrested. They all flew back to France together on November 11, 2007.
President Idriss Deny has been deeply criticized for arresting the seventeen so-called “humanitarian” AID workers, which included three French journalists traveling with the Zoe’s Ark members and a seven-member flight crew all charged with complicity in the alleged crime. Two of the journalists were supposedly covering the operation and a third was apparently present for personal reasons, according to the (sometimes impartial) media watchdog group Reporters Without Borders. A Belgian pilot is also under detention, but reportedly hasn’t been charged with any crime.
The US-based corporate news outlet MSNBC slanted their feature by reporting that "far more is at stake than the fates of the accused French nationals" and turning the focus back on the now discredited but still hysterical “Save Darfur” campaign.
In fact, what is at stake is the inequitable relationship between countries in Europe and North America and Africa. This case represents a clear example of how the victims are treated, how they are punished for being victims, and how the real perpetrators of crimes in Africa get away with everything, including murder involving covert operations, private military companies, and child trafficking under the banners of “international AID and charity.” What is at stake in this story coming to light is profits that serve powerful western interests and suck Africa dry, always validating the claims by Western “civilization” that Africans need our help, that they can’t do it by themselves.
Chadian mothers note that a if a team of black Chadian NGOs from some African charity who were sent to help people in the United States were caught red-handed as these Europeans were, there would be a massive international inquest, long-drawn out trials in the United States, projected onto the world stage, with incredible O.J. Simpson trial media fanfare. The black, African perpetrators would go to prison for the rest of their lives—guilty or innocent—and the entire country of Chad and all its people would be targeted as a haven of “anarchy” and “terrorism.”
keith harmon snow—www.allthingspass.com—is an independent human rights investigator and war correspondent that worked with Survivors Rights International (2005-2006), Genocide Watch (2005-2006) and the United Nations (2006) to document and expose genocide and crimes against humanity in Sudan and Ethiopia. In January 2006 he produced a report on genocide in Ethiopia, co-authored with an international humanitarian law and genocide expert now working for the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Tribunal on Yugoslavia. He released the UN Ethiopia genocide report without authorization in December 2006 because the United Nations buried the report and remained silent about the genocide and the Ethiopian government’s role in it. He has worked in 17 countries in Africa, heavily focused on the Great Lakes region, and he recently worked in Afghanistan.