Haitian orphans arrive in France

Dec. 23, 2010 at 8:30 AM
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PARIS, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- More than 100 orphaned Haitian children will be with their new families in France in time to spend Christmas, officials said.

The children, from 18 to 24 months old, were flown into Paris after the French government chartered an aircraft to deliver them to their new homes, The Independent reported.

A team of pediatricians was at the airport to examine the children and check for signs of cholera, which has killed about 2,500 in Haiti in recent weeks.

The children's departure for France was held up because paperwork was destroyed in the earthquake that devastated Haiti in January.

Their arrival was also delayed by the suspicions of former French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who feared France might be accused of child-napping, like the U.S. missionaries who tried unsuccessfully to take 33 children out of Haiti earlier this year.

Kouchner's successor, Michele Alliot-Marie, has cut through red tape to reach an agreement about the orphans with the authorities in Port-au-Prince.

"This is a moment of pure joy," Delphine Riviere, an English teacher said of sleeping 20-month-old Erika. "I haven't even heard her speak yet."

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