Cameroon police have opened an investigation into a network of baby traffickers who allegedly bought babies with the intention of selling them in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Some members were arrested on Saturday, along with a woman who wanted to sell her unborn child because she was poor.
Baudouin Gweha, senior official of the Gendarmerie post at Mimboman, arrested 41-year-old Pierre Essola for committing a crime that violates human dignity. Essola detailed how the network made negotiations with buyers and sellers over the telephone, saying his intention was to help poor mothers, particularly teenagers, who abandon their babies because they can’t take care of them.
Last year Cameroonian police reported that several hundred children were abandoned on the streets by poor mothers. At least two dozen babies were either killed or found dead after their mothers abandoned them.
Voice of America reports:
Gweha says Essolla is part of a network that sells Cameroonian babies in the DRC.
He says the Cameroonian police have also arrested two mothers who sold their babies, two women from the DRC who bought babies, and a babysitter the women paid to take care of the newborns in Yaoundé. He says the four babies recovered from the traffickers have been handed over to the Chantal Biya hospital in Yaoundé for medical follow-up and care.
Gweha said the buyers paid $2,000 for a 1-day-old baby who was still very fragile and $6,000 for children that were healthy and more than 3 months old.
The police said the children were hidden in a Yaoundé house and fed infant formula. The children were given injections that put them to sleep. The presence of a pregnant girl near the house and cries of the children, however, caused neighbors to alert the police.
Rather than selling or abandoning their children, Betty Nancy Fonyuy, manager of the Yaoundé-based Timely Performance Care Center, said young mothers should turn to organizations like hers for help.
“Children that their parents cannot be able to take care, they bring them to the center, we take care of them, we feed them, we clothe them, we even send aid to their homes,” she said.
“There are so many centers in Cameroon to help. Poverty in Cameroon is not all that bad to make people to sell their children out. And those that are selling children to other nations, this is very wrong.”