[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Thursday, 2 December, 2004, 17:19 GMT
Help for Gulf child camel jockeys
Gulf camel riders
Children are sought as jockeys because of their weight
A rehabilitation centre for young camel jockeys is opening its doors in the United Arab Emirates.

It is being set up by UAE authorities in conjunction with activists concerned at the plight of children used in the popular sport of camel racing.

A Pakistani campaigner, Ansar Burney, said the unit was established after a meeting with Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince.

Mr Burney estimates the UAE has 5,000 child jockeys, many from Asian states, despite a ban on riders under 15 years.

Mr Burney told UAE newspaper Gulf News that more than 40,000 children - mostly from countries such as Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka and Ethiopia - are being used in the Middle East and North Africa as camel jockeys.

"During training races they often fall down and are badly injured... Because it is illegal to keep underage jockeys, they never receive medical treatment and often suffer prolonged pain and some of them even die," he said.

The children are either bought from poor parents or kidnapped, then kept at camps.

Mr Burney said they worked up to 17 hours a day "and are subjected to slave labour".

After being rescued from the camps, the youngsters will receive health care and basic education at the centre before being repatriated.

Correspondents say that while the UAE has banned the use of camel jockeys under 15, the laws are openly flouted, with even televised races showing small boys riding the huge animals.

Child jockeys to return to Bangladesh
20 Aug 02 |  South Asia
The seamy side of camel racing
17 Apr 98 |  Despatches
Country profile: United Arab Emirates
04 Nov 04 |  Country profiles

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific