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Blocked for months in Congo, children flown to Italy for joyful reunion with adoptive parents

Congolese children are welcomed by their Italian adoptive relatives as they disembark after landing from Kinshasa, at Ciampino's military airport, on the outskirts of Rome, Wednesday, May 28, 2014. The children ran excitedly into their parents' arms after an overnight flight from Congo. Italy had worked since late last year to allow them to reach Italy. Congo had suspended all international adoptions citing fears some adopted children might later have been trafficked. None of the allegations involved adoptions by Italians. The parents were forced to leave Congo without their children after their visas expired. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

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Congolese children are welcomed by their Italian adoptive relatives as they disembark after landing from Kinshasa, at Ciampino's military airport, on the outskirts of Rome, Wednesday, May 28, 2014. The children ran excitedly into their parents' arms after an overnight flight from Congo. Italy had worked since late last year to allow them to reach Italy. Congo had suspended all international adoptions citing fears some adopted children might later have been trafficked. None of the allegations involved adoptions by Italians. The parents were forced to leave Congo without their children after their visas expired. (AP Photo/Riccardo De Luca)

ROME - Thirty-one children who had been blocked for months from leaving Congo with their adoptive parents arrived in Rome on Wednesday aboard an Italian government plane for a joyful, long delayed reunion with their new families.

The children ran excitedly into their parents' arms at Ciampino airport after an overnight flight from the western African nation. Congo suspended all international adoptions last year, citing fears some children might later have been trafficked. None of the allegations involved adoptions by Italians, and Italy's premier personally intervened in the case.

Maria Elena Boschi, an Italian government minister who accompanied the children from Congo, said "they went crazy when, from the plane's windows, they spotted their parents" waiting on the tarmac.

The mother of two of the children, girls ages 7 and 9, was ecstatic. "Happiness, happiness. I saw my two children. I kissed them and I hugged them," said Laura Mancinelli.

The parents were forced to leave Congo without their children when their visas expired, after spending months there waiting for final paperwork and hoping for a policy change from the Congolese government. The children stayed behind in the care of Italian nuns.

Boschi sported a braid woven into her hair by one of the girls during the flight. She said all the children are healthy.

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Francesco Sportelli contributed.

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