Delegation to review condition of former camel jockeys

ABU DHABI - Under the directive of Lt. General Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Interior, a delegation led by Brigadier Nasser Al Awadhi Yahya Al Minhali, head of the special committee on former camel jockeys, will travel to Sudan to follow-up on the UAE government's support of UNICEF programmes set up in the African nation to assist children formerly employed as camel jockeys in the UAE.

By (WAM)

Published: Sat 21 Jun 2008, 7:29 PM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 6:34 PM

During its five-day visit to Sudan, starting June 22, the UAE delegation will meet with representatives from UNICEF and the Sudanese national council for child welfare, visit rehabilitation centres for former camel jockeys, and meet with the key beneficiaries of the UAE Unicef program - the children and their families.

Some of the anticipated highlights of UAE delegation's trip include participating in the inauguration of the new Family and Child Protection Unit in Gadarif and meeting with youth groups in Mastora and Abu Dahan villages. The delegation also has plans to celebrate the day of the African child in Kassala. This trip is part of a programme that has already taken the UAE Ministry of Interior delegation on similar visits to Pakistan and Mauritania.

The UAE, along with Unicef and governments of Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan and Mauritania, have put in place a historic initiative that has ended the use of children as camel jockeys, helped resettle nearly 1,100 former camel jockeys and begun attacking the poverty that drove desperate parents to send their children thousands of miles away to work. Unicef has described it as a programme that should serve as a model for other countries.

Since the UAE government banned the practice in 2005, robots are being used in place of human jockeys in camel races across the UAE.

"We look forward to visiting our Sudanese brothers and be able to see the extent to which former camel jockey children repatriated to Sudan are benefiting from the programme we developed with UNICEF to improve the living standards of these children and their communities," Brigadier Nasser Al Minhali said.

'The UAE leadership's directives are to make sure all possible resources are in place to ensure the success of the compensation program targeting all those who have been working as camel jockeys in the UAE, and we are confident that our local partners in Sudan in charge of this programme are exerting tremendous efforts in this direction," he added.

Brigadier Nasser lauded the ongoing collaboration with UNICEF, government entities and the civil society in Sudan aimed at developing "a model programme of community development that reflects the high level of brotherhood and friendship between UAE and Sudan."

Ghassan Khalil, chief of child protection unit at Unicef's gulf area office said the visit of the UAE delegation to Sudan comes as a continuation of the strong partnership between the UAE government and UNICEF, aiming at ensuring a smooth and appropriate reintegration of the children previously involved in camel racing in their families and communities.

"The delegation will look also at related efforts in the area of child protection mechanisms and community-based interventions,' he added.

Last year the UAE government extended its support of community based interventions in the source countries through UNICEF, by committing additional resources to help children once employed as camel jockeys. This is not intended to be a quick-fix solution, since the roots of child labour lie in poverty.

Through its partners, the UAE is investing more than US$11mn into the source countries to help the former camel jockeys and create opportunities in their communities. Investments in teacher training and schools help not just the camel jockeys but also many other children in those schools.

UAE's Unicef staff is helping support the development of community associations which are building classrooms and installing water pumps and latrines, among other projects.

This includes a ban on the use of children in camel racing in the UAE and the substitution of robot jockeys for humans, stiff penalties for those caught trafficking or employing children, and stepped up border controls such as the requirement for machine-readable passports and retinal scans.

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