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Sierra Leone adoption scheme sparks controversy

Parents of children controversially adopted an sent to the United States some 20 years ago have issued the Sierra Leone government a 90-day ultimatum to return them or face protest actions.The aggrieved parents, who are mostly women, have vowed to go naked in demonstration of their frustration over lack of justice for their families.

The case represents the dark, uncharted side of the aftermath of Sierra Leone’s eleven-year civil war. 

Many children who lost their parents were adopted by well to do families both locally and internationally. 

But there have been reports of abuse of the system, particularly with regards adoption involving foreign parents. 

This particular case involved 200 children whose parents claim their children were taken from them by false pretense. 

The organization which facilitated the adoption process, Help A Needy Child International (HANCIL), allegedly lied to the parents to the effect that their children would remain in the country. 

The children were taken from the districts of Moyamba in the south, Makeni and Kamakwe in the north, among others. 

The aggrieved parents say since then many of them have had no idea about their children’s whereabouts.

Five executives of  the now defunct HANCIL have been on the spotlight over the issue, among them a serving Member of Parliament. Rowland Kargbo, who represents the Karene District in the north of the country, was Executive Director of the organization when the adoption happened in 1997.

The matter was taken to court a few years ago but it has stalled at the High Count over reported lack of evidence. The accused were slammed with 31 count charges.

Abubacarr Kargbo, a spokesperson for aggrieved parents, said at a press conference on Tuesday that they wanted government to act to help them have back their children. 

“We are calling on President Bio to see how best he can intervene,” he said, noting that some of the parents have died without seeing their children.

Lovetta Conteh, one of the children, recently returned home. 

She was seven years when taken away. 

She said they were told that their parents were dead. 

She said some of her colleagues also want to return but that they don’t know how to go about it. 

She said they are being given misleading information about their parents.

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