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UAE and country delegations review reintegration process of children involved in camel racing

ABU DHABI, 19 September, 2006 – The United Arab Emirates Ministry of Interior and UNICEF jointly stated that in the past twelve months they have helped over one thousand former camel jockeys return to normal childhood.

A two-day review meeting involving child protection experts and government representatives from the United Arab Emirates, Bangladesh, Mauritania, Pakistan and Sudan, is evaluating the effectiveness of the reintegration programmes.

”UNICEF applauds the UAE's vision and leadership in asking us all to enter into this partnership, with the needs and care for the children being the guiding concern," said Omar Abdi, UNICEF Regional Director of the Middle East.

In 2005, the UAE sought UNICEF's expertise in enabling the boys to transition from their old lives to their news ones.  As a result, the number of boys assisted to date is estimated at over one thousand.

The participating countries designed various programmes including the initial identification of children, support in terms of repatriation and the training of national institutions and non-governmental organization's (NGO's) to provide children with medical care, psychosocial counselling and education programmes.

Similarly, country-based interventions are tackling the problem of child trafficking by establishing monitoring mechanisms that will prevent children formerly involved in camel racing from re-entering hazardous or exploitative labour. 

One year later, the success of several cooperation initiatives is being acknowledged, including:  

• awareness campaigns with camel owners in the UAE;
• the establishment of transit centres providing medical assistance and other services to affected children in the Sudan;
• a family tracing system verified by justice authorities in Mauritania;
• psychosocial care of children and back to school campaigns in Pakistan and the establishment of community care committees in Bangladesh.

All concerned countries have developed follow-up mechanisms empowering NGOs and local institutions to oversee the payment of outstanding salaries to child beneficiaries.

Efforts are underway to strengthen comprehensive reintegration procedures. "Such procedures must include the establishment of centres and keeping a detailed record of the increasing numbers of children, as per technical guidelines provided by UNICEF," said the Undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior, Major General Saif Abdullah Alshaafar.

Under the patronage of General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed al Nahyan, the review meeting will issue recommendations for multi-country cooperation to sustain ongoing reintegration of affected children.

For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 156 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments

For more information, please contact:

Trish Hiddleston, Regional Child Protection Adviser, UNICEF MENA-RO: Mobile + 962 799747678, thiddleston@unicef.org

Wolfgang Friedl, Communication Officer, UNICEF MENA: Tel + 9626-5502-422, wfriedl@unicef.org

Omar Shehadeh, Regional Donor Relations Officer, UNICEF – Gulf Area Office: Tel + 971 50 4559498, oshehadeh@unicef.org





14 September 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Steve Nettleton reports on the life of Rubel, 13, a former camel jockey from Bangladesh.
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