UN Children’s Fund helps repatriate underage camel jockeys to Bangladesh

12 August 2005

The first group of under-age Bangladeshi camel jockeys, some only four years old, trafficked to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) or sent there to earn money for their families, has been repatriated with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The first group of under-age Bangladeshi camel jockeys, some only four years old, trafficked to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) or sent there to earn money for their families, has been repatriated with the support of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

“The priority for these children now is that they be rehabilitated and reintegrated into the family, their local communities and Bangladesh society,” UNICEF country representative Morten Giersing said, greeting the 36 youngsters at Zia International airport after their flight from Abu Dhabi. “Their safety and well-being is our focus now.”

In May the UAE Government banned camel racing with under-age 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. They are aged between 4 and 15.

With UNICEF support, the Bangladeshi Government began making appropriate arrangements for their repatriation. More than 150 children remain in the UAE and the Agency is working with officials in both countries to repatriate them as soon as possible.

“It was extremely important that the preparedness activities and verification process be thorough and exhaustive to ensure the right children were identified and helped. UNICEF provided technical and advisory and financial support to the Government of Bangladesh throughout this process,” Mr. Giersing said.

UNICEF was instrumental in establishing The Committee on Children involved in Camel Racing comprised of members from the Agency itself, the Government, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the inter-governmental International Organisation for Migration (IOM).

 

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