Orphanage deaths of 33 children under probe

Legal authorities in Mali are investigating the deaths of 33 small children over a six-month period at an orphanage in the capital Bamako, sources told AFP.

The probe opened after a children's rights coalition filed a complaint against the home, where the children died in suspicious circumstances between August 2010 and February this year, a legal source said, identifying the home only as X.

"We don't want to accuse anyone but it is up to the Malian justice system to determine the responsibilities," Mohamadou Lamine Cisse, head of the umbrella grouping of 78 Malian and foreign non-governmental organisations, told AFP.

Charity workers have visited the centre and reported deplorable conditions.

Two Malian doctors have certified, in documents seen by AFP, that four children were hospitalised in February for "under-nourishment certainly due either to insufficient quantity or quality of the milk given to these children."

The home, which cares for abandoned children and orphans up to age five, has eight nannies during the day and seven at night for 99 children, the sources say.

In May the centre's director, Diallo Aminata Keita, was jailed at a women's prison in a case unrelated to the children's deaths.

A legal source said she was convicted of providing "unlawful assistance towards children's adoption."

The children's home, a public institution set up in 1956, depends on donations from national and international associations.

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