24 April 2008

$8,927,000 to go

While we were living in Dubai, huge reform took place around the way in which camel races were conducted in the U.A.E. - as well as in other nations in the Gulf area.

In the good old un-PC days and from countries like Pakistan and Sudan, young boys were taken (often for a pitifully, small monetary exchange) from their impoverished families and shipped to the Middle East, where they lived in squalid conditions and with little regard for their welfare and safety, to ride camels during training and racing.

This changed in 2004/2005 when robot camel jockeys replaced the small boys who, upon passing their "use-by date", were returned to their h
ome countries and their families - if their families could even be found.

Back in 2006, (and under threat from a civil lawsuit lodged in the U.S.A. on behalf of the camel jockeys' families against members of the Dubai ruling family), a BBC report stated that the U.A.E. government would give $9,000,000 to the approx. 1,000 former child jockeys who had been repatriated to Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sudan and Mauritania. Working in co-operation with UNICEF, the money would "ensure they receive the salaries owed to them and compensation for losing their income. It will also go towards education."

As far as I can find out from news reports on the subject, the first compensation to child camel jockeys repatriated to their home countries from the U.A.E. has just been finalised.

It's only taken a couple of years to process 73 cases out of over 1,000 which have have received approval from the U.A.E. Interior Ministry to receive $1000 each.

The money, called a "rehabilitation fund", will be put into a Punjab Bank trust account. The Rs600 ($15) interest per month will be sent to the parents with the proviso that their child (the former child jockey) is "regularly" sent to school.

By my calculations, $9million divided among 1,000+ children means that each child should receive approx. $9000, yet in this first instance, 73 children will each receive only the interest from $1,000.

While I think that the trust fund set-up is a good idea as it provides ongoing income, there appears to be an anomaly between what was promised and what's been delivered.

More info sites, although I can't vouch that all of them can be accessed by everyone in the U.A.E. under the censored internet conditions:
~ Commission on Human Rights Report on Anti-Slavery.org
~ "UAE: Talks on compensation for child camel jockeys" (held at Emirates Towers in June 2007) on Child Rights Information Network.com
~ Dubai Government's Dubaicameljockeys.org website
~ Camel jockeys return home on UNICEF.org

What's UNICEF's ongoing role in this? The organisation seems to have played no part in the recent allocation of the funds, nor in the June 2007 meeting as the report states:
Each Board may designate one or more NGOs or similar entities like UNICEF or the Red Crescent Society, chosen for their expertise in working with children formerly involved in camel racing. These NGOs/entities will help publicise the Claim Facility and provide legal and other assistance to children who are considering or have filed claims.

It appears that UNICEF has been removed from the insider loop - although, if not legally, then morally and ethically they must uphold their side of the agreement between them and the U.A.E. to ensure that the children are properly cared for and that
the promises of adequate compensation and education are being upheld.

Also, in a brilliant piece of deduction, Dubai Police has stated that there is no organised trafficking in human beings in the U.A.E. because "no U.A.E. National has been involved
in any kind of human trafficking case till date."

According to
Major General Khamis Matar Al Mazina, deputy commander general of Dubai Police, this "proves that our country is free from such illegal practice."

Others would say otherwise, and if this lawsuit is ever brought to trial and the defendants proven guilty, the muppets at Dubai Police may have to rethink their beliefs.


Melanie Nelson said...

I'm deeply disturbed by the stories that keep surfacing about human trafficking here in the UAE since my arrival 2 months ago. I am afraid to scratch the surface because of what I'll find.

Of course, I'm obsessively scratching.

Great post.

Paresh said...

Unrelated note -

Changing Blog URL and Name

I'm shortening the blog URL / name to c-flat.blogspot.com

Please update your links accordingly. Thanks!

Pandabonium said...

We humans are sure a sorry lot.

Paresh - C-flat? shouldn't that read B-natural? ;^)

Aussie said...

You are turning into a real slacker with your blogs NZM!

Keefieboy said...

hear hear Aussie! (In fact you've become so slack that Blogger no longer considers you a threat and has given me a CAPTCHA that I can actully read!)

kaya said...

Time for NEW post darling.
Something racy and raunchy!

Sandie said...

missing u NZM, hope Oz land is treating u well.

moryarti said...

I know you are there ... where are the updates?