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UAE supports UNICEF in safe return of camel jockeys to home countries

DUBAI/AMMAN – 8 May 2005 – In a major step to provide protection and support to children involved in camel racing, the UAE Ministry of Interior and UNICEF today signed an agreement to provide some $2.7 million to help in return and re-integration of child camel jockeys in their home communities.

The agreement will complement ongoing efforts from the UAE government to exclude all underage children in camel racing, and to strengthen measures to prevent the exploitation and abuse of children brought in from other countries, including from South Asia and Africa. 

A joint meeting held 7-8 May by the Ministry, UNICEF, and IOM with delegates from governments and non-governmental groups from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan and Mauritania reviewed steps needed to remove children from camel racing and assist their home countries in return and rehabilitation of the children. 

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.  We hope that the UAE’s programme will serve as a model to other countries in the region, as a means of ending all forms of exploitation of children”, said  Thomas McDermott, UNICEF’s Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa.

For further information please contact
Anis Salem, UNICEF Middle East and North Africa, +962-79-557-9991, asalem@unicef.org

Wolfgang Friedl, UNICEF Middle East and North Africa, + 9626-5502-422, wfriedl@unicef.org




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