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UNICEF Seeks Safe Return Of Child Camel Racers


UNICEF Seeks Safe Return Of Child Camel Racers To Home Countries

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have signed a $2.7 million agreement to help return and re-integrate underage camel racers in their home communities.

The agreement complements ongoing efforts by the UAE Government to exclude all underage children in camel racing and to strengthen measures to prevent the exploitation and abuse of youngsters brought in from other countries, including from South Asia and Africa, UNICEF said.

The signing comes on the heels of a meeting held last week with delegates from governments and non-governmental groups from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan and Mauritania to review steps needed to remove children from camel racing and assist their home countries in return and rehabilitation of the youngsters.

According to the UAE Interior Ministry around 2,800 of the roughly 3,000 children currently involved in camel racing are under 10. With UNICEF's technical assistance, the Ministry plans to review these figures in a survey of camel riders.

UNICEF applauded the Government's initiatives to crack down on the import and employment of children as camel jockeys, and to work with the countries from which the children came to ensure a safe return to their 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.

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