Last Updated: Wednesday, 01 October 2014, 14:56 GMT

Yemen: Child trafficking to Saudi Arabia down in 2009

Publisher Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
Publication Date 25 January 2010
Cite as Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Yemen: Child trafficking to Saudi Arabia down in 2009, 25 January 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4b61b24926.html [accessed 1 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

SANAA, 25 January 2010 (IRIN) - Fewer Yemeni children were trafficked to Saudi Arabia in 2009 than in recent years, according to a Yemeni Ministry of Social Affairs official.

The reasons for this included awareness campaigns on child trafficking, collaboration between the Yemeni and Saudi authorities and the volatile situation in northern Yemen, according to officials.

"Only 602 children were trafficked to Saudi in 2009, compared to 900 in 2008," Abbas Ghalib, head of the juveniles department at the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor (MSAL), told IRIN in Sanaa.

Child welfare centres set up by the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and run by MSAL aim to alleviate the problem

According to the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the children, mostly boys, are smuggled for "forced begging, forced unskilled labour, or forced street vending."

Ghalib said renewed fighting between government troops and Houthi-led Shia rebels since August 2009 in the northern province of Saada had helped reduce the number of trafficked children. "Families feared sending their children to Saudi Arabia in the company of traffickers after scores of kids were arrested and recruited as soldiers by rebels," he said.

UNICEF's role

Naseem Ur-Rehman, UNICEF chief of communications in Yemen, told IRIN his organization and the relevant authorities conducted a number of awareness raising campaigns in 2009 to make parents of trafficked children understand the risks of child trafficking.

"Over 4,000 children, their families and local councils from the vulnerable districts, religious leaders and teachers have taken part," Ur-Rehman said. "Local media outlets played a great role in bringing [the] dangers of child trafficking to the attention of parents and law enforcement agencies."

According to Ur-Rehman, UNICEF also worked closely with the authorities to help introduce legislation to save children from abuse, neglect and exploitation.

In a recent incident, in December 2009, five children aged 5-18 were handed over by the Saudi authorities to Yemeni police in Haradh, said Ali al-Jelai, chairman of the National Organization for Combating People Smuggling (NOCPS). "The five children were trafficked into Saudi territory where they were exploited for begging."

He said police had thwarted attempts to traffic 70 children to Saudi Arabia in the past year, and that 20 smugglers had been arrested.

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