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Tsunami: Scotland Yard combats child trafficking

Publish Date: 13 Jan 2005

By David Batty 

Bid to protect tsunami survivors from child traffickers

Scotland Yard has set up a child protection unit as part of international efforts to combat the possible trafficking of children in the wake of the Indian Ocean earthquake, it emerged today.

The Metropolitan police established the intelligence cell following warnings by the UN's children's welfare charity Unicef that children orphaned and displaced by the tsunami disaster are being targeted by paedophiles and child sex traffickers.

A Met spokesman said: "This initiative will provide a central point of contact for all British personnel involved in protecting children displaced by the tsunami to report their concerns and allow for a more accurate assessment of the risk to children in the area."

The new unit will work with a range of national and international law enforcement and child welfare organisations including Unicef, the Home Office, End Child Prostitution and Trafficking, the National Missing Persons Helpline, Save the Children, the National Crime Squad and Interpol.

Intelligence officers and analysts from the Met's child abuse investigation command are already working with children's charities and local police in the disaster area to establish the risks posed to children by traffickers.

The force stressed that there was as yet no specific intelligence to indicate that either traffickers or paedophiles have increased activity in the region.

In the Indonesian province of Aceh alone, more than 35,000 children have been separated from their families in the wake of the tsunami, according to the country's social affairs department. Indonesian charity PKPA (centre for study and child protection) has so far recorded more than 10 alleged cases of illegal adoptions of children from Aceh.

Unicef has mobilised a team of 36 specialist child trauma experts in Thailand where 300 children have been orphaned, according to government statistics. The team comprises psychologists, psychiatrists, paediatricians and nurses who will work in the provinces of Pang Nga, Krabi, Phuket and Ranong where many children have lost families and witnessed horrific scenes of destruction.,3858,5102583-115399,00.html

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