UAE delegation visits former child jockeys



The camel-jockeys have been repatriated to their home country following an agreement between the UAE and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The head of the delegation Maj. Gen. Khalil Badran claims that the group has made sure effective rehabilitation plans is in place to provide food, clothes, education, health care and professional training to the repatriated children.

The visit included Lahore, Islamabad and a number of villages where repatriated children live.

The delegation also claims that 98 percent of former repatriated camel jockeys (686 out of 692 children) have been reunited with their families. The remaining 6 children are still staying at a specialized center pending settlement of family status. According to UNICEF, the UAE agreed last year to repatriate about 3,000 children. On June 21, 2007, the first group of 22 children was returned to Pakistan. The visit is within the framework of the recently signed agreement between the UAE and UNICEF and is followed up on by the UAE Minister of Interior Lt.-Gen. Sheikh Saif ibn Zayed Al-Nahyan.

According to UNICEF, parents mainly in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sudan have sent children as young as four to become camel jockeys via unscrupulous recruiters. In return parents get a one-time payment and a few dollars a month. Children are preferred because of their small size and weight. Camel racing is a popular spectator sport in the Gulf region, especially in the UAE.


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