The scandal involving French charity Zoe’s Ark is tangled in a web of good intentions gone awry. While the organization pointed to the paralysis of diplomacy in Darfur leaving thousands upon thousands of children displaced and without being in the care of a nuclear family, it turns out that none of the 103 children were orphans in the Western sense – and were removed by the French workers from their own community and familial networks. In addition, in Muslim countries like Chad and Sudan where family matters are goverened by Islamic law, Western concepts of adoption are essentially forbidden by religious edict.
Members of the French charity Zoe’s Ark were detained as they were preparing to fly 103 children out of the Chadian city of Abeche. The plane’s crew, all Spanish citizens, are also being held by Chadian authorities. The children, largely from Sudan’s Darfur region, were intended to be smuggled to Europe by the charity workers – justified by the Geneva convention and international law, according to an update on the Zoe’s Ark website. The Chadian government is currently conducting investigations on the smuggling attempt.