Following the massive earthquake in Haiti, which claimed 300,000 lives and left countless others in dire circumstances, Haitian and Dominican officials vowed to protect vulnerable children from falling victim to trafficking.
Nonprofit organizations and news sources are now reporting lax security along the border, coupled with the chaotic and desperate situation in post-earthquake Port-au-Prince, has allowed for a dramatic increase in the smuggling of Haitian children into the Dominican Republic.
The Miami Herald reports,
Since the earthquake, more than 7,300 boys and girls have been smuggled into the Dominican Republic by traffickers profiting on the hunger and desperation of Haitian children and their families. In 2009, the figure was 950, according to one human rights group that monitors child trafficking at 10 border points.
According to the Miami Herald, government guards and United Nations peacekeepers fail to intervene as traffickers carry children across the Massacre River between the two countries.
UNICEF says that their Brigade for the Protection of Minors (BPM) inspectors are required to stop all minors being brought across the border. But the small number of inspectors at checkpoints in the city of Malpasse are unable to intervene to protect children along the entire 200-mile long border.
Controversy remains over the effectiveness of border guards, some of which the Miami Herald contends are profiteering off of the traffickers' bribes.
Read the full exposé in the Miami Herald.