Ethnic minority children go missing from welfare center

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Parents from an ethnic group in the central region's Quang Binh Province have sent a letter of complaint against the provincial social welfare center for sending their children abroad without informing them or getting their consent.


The letter, sent to the provincial police and several newspapers, said the Quang Binh Social Welfare Center, which is home to the country's contributors, disadvantaged people and the like, has been "irresponsible" to their families for years.


According to the letter, Quang Binh Department of Labor, Invalids and Social Affairs in January 2006 sent 13 children of the Ruc people, who'd either lost their father or mother or both, to the center to live and study.


The parents said they saw their children once after they were taken to the center, but during another visit in July 2006, there was no sign of them.


"Until now, we have no information of our children," the parents said in the letter.


The center "has made use of us, cheated us and sent our 13 children abroad for its own benefits."


Le Thi Thu Ha, director of the center, said the children have been adopted by foreigners in Italy, without giving further details or comments.


Ha had made an appointment with Saigon Tiep Thi to provide all the related documents but on the appointment day, she said the archive keeper was on leave.


The missing children are Cao Thi Bich, Cao Duc Buoi, Cao Thi Tuoi, Cao Xuan Thanh, Tran Thi Luong, Tran Thi Lan, Cao Xuan Le, Cao Xuan Ly, Cao Thi Luu, Ho Thi Hien, Ho Xuan Hoa, Cao Xuan Chung and Dinh Thi Viu. They are now between 5 and 15 years of age.


Tran Thi Thu, who has two children who have gone missing, said, "I had been happy thinking that my children would be fed and taught at the center, but after several months, I missed them and came to visit them but didn't see them"¦ I asked for them around the center but only received unclear answers."


Dinh Thi Thuy, another mother, said she has been haunted every day and night with the faces of her missing children Chung and Viu. "I've missed them so much that I couldn't sleep. I missed them every time I had a good food. Not seeing them, I have been withered."


Cao Thi Hong, who also has two children in the list, said some officials came recently to ask them to sign in a form about not complaining further about the matter. The officials also promised that the children would come back to them when they're 18.


According to the law, Vietnamese children are allowed to be adopted by foreigners only with the agreement of their families or sponsors and they have to be updated about the children every six months.


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