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|Saudi Authorities Deploy 3,000 Yemeni Child Beggars|
Hakim Almasmari ( YEMEN POST
Article Date: September 15, 2008
A recent Saudi field study revealed that over 3,500 Yemeni children are arrested monthly by Saudi security forces. These children are smuggled illegally into the Kingdom for labor and begging purposes, and some are even used in the illegal sex market.
The same study further indicated that thousands of children tour the streets of main cities in Saudi Arabia, most of them being Yemeni. Few numbers of those begging children belong to other countries, including 18 Asian countries.
Ramadan is considered a good season for many families especially those who practice begging as a profession as they send their children to smugglers who, in their turn, lead them to the Saudi cities.
Parents are often paid big sums of money to allow the traffickers to take their children to Saudi.
When put in this situation, some parents prefer to take the money and give their children to traffickers in return.
Families who give their children strongly believe that the child will return when he gets older, therefore not losing their children and getting extra money to improve their bad financial situation in the same time.
Observers stress that tens of thousands of children are smuggled into Saudi Arabia every year and work as herders, beggars or servants at homes. Statistics reveal that most smuggled children belong to Hajjah province, followed by Al-Mahweet and Al-Hodeidah's Tehama Region.
In this regard, UNICEF and Ministry of Social Affairs as well as Ministry of Education work closely to improve children education, hoping that they don't end up trafficked.
Children are also subject to violence and sexual abuse when working for Saudi masters or caught by Saudi or Yemeni border guards as they lack protection. They are sent to prison and sometimes locked up with adult returnees and denied any food or drinking.
Seeking to prevent such awkward dealings, UNICEF and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor have opened a reception center at the Haradh border post to receive children deported back by Saudi authorities.
However, the center that was intended to receive only trafficked children deported by the Saudi authorities, now receives children involved in trafficking, child labor and illegal migration.
UNICEF also trained border guards on how to recognize and take care of trafficked children. This program was developed from an agreement with Saudi Arabia and trains and teaches how to treat children during their arrest and having them deported back home safely.