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China has 570,000 orphans, most outside govt welfare system

By Liu Sheng (Global Times)

08:45, June 20, 2013

China had some 570,000 orphans by the end of 2012, an increase of 11 percent on the same period of last year, the Ministry of Civil Affairs said Wednesday in an annual report.

Only 95,000 of all orphans were being raised by government-funded welfare agencies, while the remainder was taken care of either by relatives or by privately owned orphanages.

"The government has put a stop to individuals raising abandoned babies privately, and since there are not enough welfare institutions, the growing number of orphans outside official agencies is obvious," Gu Xiaoming, a sociology professor with Fudan University, told the Global Times.

Seven central government agencies forbade any individual or organizations from taking in abandoned babies privately in a May circular, in an effort to combat crime, including baby trafficking. "If custodians can't be found, babies should be taken care of temporarily at designated child welfare agencies," said the circular.

The ministry said there were 724 agencies with 87,000 beds, enough to receive 54,000 children by the end of 2012, of which 463 were child welfare agencies that had 77,000 beds accommodating 104,000 children.

"The number of welfare agencies is far from enough, as many private ones have closed for lack of funding," said Xia Xueluan, a professor with the Institute of Sociology and Anthropology of Peking University, adding that all levels of government are not paying enough attention to child welfare agencies, and not every orphan can go to an official orphanage.

The deadly fire at a privately owned and unlicensed orphanage that killed seven children in January in Lankao county, Henan Province, was attributed to the absence of official child welfare facilities in the county.

Local people used to send abandoned babies to a private orphanage run by Yuan Lihai, a woman who had taken in over 100 children in 26 years.

"The local government should pay everything for orphans, rather than a monthly subsidy, as they have the rights to survive, be educated and enjoy happiness like other children," said Gu.

In 2012, there were 23,157 adoptions registered by Chinese citizens, a drop of 16 percent from 2011, in comparison with 4,121 foreign adoptions, up 7 percent from 2011.

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