(CNN) Ten Americans charged with trafficking in Haiti defended their plan to bus 33 children into the Dominican Republic, saying their intention was to get them to a temporary shelter.
“We came into Haiti to help those that really had no other source of help,” said Laura Silsby, a member of the group. “We are trusting the truth will be revealed, and we are praying for that.”
The five men and five women are from New Life Children’s Refuge, an Idaho-based charity. They said they were trying to move the children from Port-au-Prince into the Dominican Republic.
According to the group, the children did not have any passports. Government approval is needed for any Haitian children to leave the country.
A senior U.S. official with direct knowledge of the case said there was no indication of child trafficking.
The statement said the children were being rescued from “one or more orphanages” that had been damaged in the quake.
the government’s ministry of social affairs will attempt to reunite the children with any family members and provide psychological assistance.
But the group said it believed the children were orphaned, and it was going to house them in a converted hotel in the Dominican Republic. Officials in the country had agreed to allow them in without the required paperwork, Silsby said.
U.S. embassy officials visited the Americans over the weekend at a jail near the airport in Port-au-Prince, where they are being detained. The group said it was being treated well, and was holding on to its faith.
“God is our provider and God gives us strength and comfort,” said group member Carla Thompson. “We are having a great time. We have our Bibles and we are OK.”
Source from CNN.com