Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Emirates act to repatriate children camel jockeys :: Arabic News

Quoting, emphasis added:

Preliminary figures provided by the UAE's Ministry of Interior indicate that around 3,000 children are currently involved in camel racing, of whom around 2,800 are aged under 10 years old. With UNICEF's technical assistance, the UAE's Ministry of Interior plans to review these figures in a survey of camel jockeys. "We applaud these bold initiatives by the UAE, on the one hand cracking down on the import and employment of children as camel jockeys, and on the other hand working with the countries from which the children came to ensure a safe return to the children's families.

The BBC noted in July that "Using children has officially been banned in the UAE since 1980. Earlier this year it tightened the rules, banning under-16s and those lighter than 45kg (100lb) from racing."
. . .
UNICEF announced this month that the United Arab Emirates is acting implement a new law that bans children camel jockeys for the traditional camel racing sport.

Earlier this month, August 11, the first group of Bangladeshi camel jockeys has been repatriated from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and arrived safely in Dhaka.

The thirty six former camel jockeys aged between 4 and 15 were greeted by the State Minister of Home Affairs, Md. Lutfozzaman Babar and UNICEF country representative Morten Giersing at Zia International airport after their flight from Abu Dhabi.

A further 15 children were also repatriated bringing the number of children who arrived today [8/22/2005 ] from the UAE to 51.

"The priority for these children now is that they be rehabilitated and reintegrated into the family, their local communities and Bangladesh society. Their safety and well-being is our focus now," said Mr Giersing.

In May of this year the government of the UAE Government banned camel racing with the use of underage jockeys - that is, children under the age of 16. Most of these children received little or no pay, had no access to education, were starved before races to keep their weight down and were separated from family and culture.

Some of these children were trafficked from Bangladesh, others were sent there to earn money for their families back home and others were used as underage jockeys to earn money for the family living in the UAE.
The UAE has made a start: 51 out of 3,000. Earlier other children were repatriated to their home countries. There's still a long way to go.

What will the parents do when the child is repatriated? Send them out to work in the next best alternative?

Of the children still in the UAE, how are they being treated by their employer now that their usefulness to the employer has been lost (to the extent the law is enforced)?



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