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Tuesday, 20 August, 2002, 22:29 GMT 23:29 UK
Child jockeys to return to Bangladesh
Former jockey Nuru Mia, 10, shows camel bites on his hand
Boys were abducted or given away by their families

Bangladeshi children who were kidnapped and sold to work as camel jockeys in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are to be repatriated after the Gulf state introduced a ban on underage jockeys.

The Geneva-based International Organisation for Migration (IOM) will help the children to return home to Bangladesh but warns that they will face many difficulties reintegrating into Bangladeshi society.

Mohammad Mamun, 10, shows his injured leg
Boys were strapped onto camels with ropes
It is not clear how many children have been trafficked from Bangladesh to the UAE to work as camel jockeys, but the IOM says children as young as two have been sold into the sport.

Many of them were bought for as little as $75 and have spent years kept in poor conditions, being forced to take part in dangerous races.

Others have been deliberately underfed to make sure their weight stayed low - and there are several reports that children have died while racing.

New regulations

From 1 September, the Gulf state will enforce a ban on employing child jockeys under the age of 15 and who weigh less than 45 kilograms.

Checks will be made before each race and officials will keep a closer eye at airports to stop traffickers from bringing unaccompanied children into the country.

The IOM says it is encouraged that both governments have asked for assistance in repatriating the children.

But the organisation warns that it will not be easy for the children to go back home.

Since many were trafficked before they were five, few will be able to recognise their parents, let alone speak their mother tongue.

See also:

27 May 02 | In Depth
03 Sep 01 | Africa
05 Nov 00 | Middle East
18 Jan 01 | Africa
17 Apr 98 | Despatches
16 Aug 02 | Country profiles
05 Mar 02 | Country profiles
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