[JURIST] United Nations General Secretary Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Friday called on nations, organizations and individuals to respect laws passed for the protection of children [statement]. Ban's comments come in the wake of an unsuccessful bid by a French charity to fly 103 children out of Chad [UNICEF situation update, DOC; ZA backgrounder, in French] late last month. Chadian authorities foiled an attempt by French group Zoe's Ark [advocacy website, in French; BBC backgrounder] to fly the children - alleged to be orphans from Sudan's Darfur region - from Chad to Europe for anticipated placement with French families and arrested 17 people allegedly associated with the effort. Ban assured Chad that the UN would keep providing humanitarian assistance in the region, and expressed hope that Chad would continue to cooperate with UN processes.
Six French nationals have been charged with kidnapping [JURIST report] and face five to 20 years in prison if convicted. Three members of a Barcelona-based flight crew, along with a Belgian pilot, were charged with complicity in the alleged kidnapping. The other seven Europeans were released [JURIST report] Sunday following a meeting between visiting French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chadian leader Idriss Deby. Zoe's Ark maintains that its intentions were purely humanitarian. French Prime Minister Francois Fillon has ordered an investigation into the charity. The UN News Centre has more.