The vast majority of the 103 children abducted for adoption in France from eastern Chad had family in the country, according to United Nations agencies and their partners who are providing assistance and investigating the identities and places of origin of the group.
"During interviews with humanitarian staff, 91 children said they had been living with their family, consisting of at least one adult they considered to be their parent," according to joint statement issued by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the non-governmental organization the International Red Cross Committee (ICRC).
Aid workers are currently talking to the remaining 12 children to determine their family situations. International humanitarian rules, such as the Convention on the Rights of the Child, forbid the transfer of children for adoption under such circumstances. When children are separated from their families during calamities, aid agencies work to reunite them, and do not assume they no longer have living relatives.
Some members of the NGO Children Rescue/Arche de Zoe have been arrested for attempting to take the 21 girls and 82 boys - the youngest being about a year old and the oldest about 10 - out of Chad.
Although tracing the children's background is a "painstaking undertaking" particularly in light of the number of children involved, their young age and the regional situation, the agencies aim to gather as much information quickly while attending to their psychological and emotional needs.
In a preliminary conclusion, UNHCR, UNICEF and ICRC said that 85 of the children are from villages near the cities of Adré and Tine on the Chadian side of its border with Sudan.
This information, which has been shared with the Chadian Government, must now be verified in these villages, and in the coming weeks, the agencies and their partners will continue efforts to find solutions for each child to rejoin their families and live their lives as children.
"The unusual circumstances surrounding the children's arrival in Abeché, required rapid action to ensure the protection of the children including the immediate provision of adequate shelter and other items," the statement said.
Along with other groups such as volunteers from the Chadian Red Cross, the three agencies are assisting the Chadian authorities by providing food, mattresses, blankets, soap, clothes, toys, hygiene articles, medicine and other supplies.