ROME - Twenty-four Italian couples who travelled to the Democratic Republic of Congo to bring home children they have adopted have been blocked in the conflict-hit capital Kinshasa for two months, according to media reports Tuesday.
"Do something, help us to come home with our children," Michela Gentili, who has adopted a two-year-old boy, told her family by telephone after clashes in the capital and two other towns on Monday which left over 70 people dead.
The families have been left in limbo by the Congolese government's decision to suspend all international adoptions - including those already finalised - after allegations of some adoptive parents abandoning their charges.
"They have now told us all adoptions are blocked until September, October 2014," she said.
Prime Minister Enrico Letta sent a delegation to Kinshasha last week and said his Congolese counterpart Augustin Matata has promised to speed up the process and make the Italian cases a priority.
"The foreign ministry called and told us to stay inside. We have to go home but how can we leave the children?" Kinshasa Luca Aloisio, one of the adoptive fathers, told La Repubblica daily.
The adoptive parents said their situation was particularly critical because they handed over their passports as part of the adoption process and the visas they were granted on entry have now expired.
"We have confidence in the Congolese PM's promise," Italy's Congolese-born integration minister Cecile Kyenge said.