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Last Updated: Monday, 4 July, 2005, 09:57 GMT 10:57 UK
Child jockeys return to parents
Racing camels in the Gulf
The child jockeys returned under a Unicef agreement
Nine of the 22 child camel jockeys who returned to Pakistan from the United Arab Emirates in June have been reunited with their parents.

The parents had to sign a surety bond of 100,000 rupees ($1,600), officials of the Child Protection and Welfare Bureau in Lahore said.

The parents also had to give a legal undertaking not to permit the children to be used as jockeys in the future.

The ordeal traumatised many of the children, the welfare officials said.

The cases of five more children are being processed but applications filed by the families of two others have been rejected over concerns about their actual relationship with the children.

Smuggled

The chief minister's adviser on child protection for Punjab province, Faiza Asghar, said: "Efforts are being made to trace antecedents of the remaining six children currently lodged at the bureau but, so far, there has been little success."

The master cared more for the camels than for us
Mohammad Yaqub,
child jockey

The return of the children, used in camel races by private clubs in the UAE, has been made possible by a Unicef-sponsored agreement for the repatriation of nearly 3,000 child jockeys.

Many of the Pakistani children had been smuggled from the poorer districts of southern Punjab and Sindh.

Officials say some travelled to the UAE with fake mothers, who would leave them in the custody of race organisers and return to Pakistan on a new passport.

Officials said a second group of around 60 child jockeys was expected to return to Pakistan on Tuesday.

The children who have already returned have been receiving psychotherapy to help them deal with their ordeal.

Many were kept in poor conditions, crowded into huts and having to sleep on hard floors.

One jockey, 14-year-old Mohammad Yaqub, said: "The master cared more for the camels than for us."


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