The U.N. Children's Fund says it has received permission from the government of Chad to return 103 children to their families.

The children were taken from their homes in Chad by French charity workers who said they believed the children were orphans from Sudan's troubled Darfur region. But an international investigation found most of the children were Chadian, with at least one parent or guardian.

The children had been held in an orphanage for the past five months. UNICEF blamed the delayed return on bureaucratic issues and the Chadian government's desire to ensure the children are returned to their correct guardians.

Six charity workers were convicted by a Chadian court of trying to kidnap the children and were sentenced to eight years of hard labor. The workers were later transferred to France, where they are serving out a reduced sentence of just the eight-year prison term.

Chadian President Idriss Deby said that he is ready to pardon the workers, but he wants to know who would pay the $12 million he said the families of the children are owed for the ordeal they had been through.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.