Cartoon film on the trafficking of children under production [Archives:2006/960/Local News]

July 3 2006

Walid Al-Boks
SANA'A, July 1 ) The Shoudhab Foundation for Childhood and Development (SFCD) honored painter Wafa Al-Ashwal for her first rank cartoon characters, featuring Yemeni family personalities. The painting will be turned into a cartoon film for children.

Lamya Al-Aryani, SFCD's director, has decided to produce the film, said that “the film we [will] produce will help spread children's rights. We want each child to live a beautiful life and avoid suffering and disregard, as well as having the attention from adults.”

In collaboration with UNICEF and the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor, the SFCD organized a celebration last Friday in the Taj Saba Hotel, finalizing the first phase of the production if a Yemeni cartoon film according to Maryam Ibrahim Al-Shawafi, executive manager of the SFCD. The celebration was attended by an American embassy representative and the Egyptian ambassador along with his wife.

Al-Shawafi explained the various stages of the first phase. The first phase “included diverse preparations and field visits to five governorates to find more than 1,000 cartoonists participate in drawing the cartoon characters.

“Later, all the cartoons were subject to the judgment of a specialized committee to select the wining cartoon, following the opinion poll of a vast number school children thus, today the painting is before you and it will be in the cartoon film in the second phase.”

Trafficking of children

The SFCD presented a report, prepared by the foundation in cooperation with UNICEF, on the trafficking of children to neighboring countries. The report, titled “Children out of Borders,” included child narrated stories that conveyed their personal experiences being trafficked. According to the film, the main causes and motives for trafficking were those of need and displacement.

One of the children, who did not mention his name, said that his journey started when somebody offered to help him enter Saudi Arabia.

“I was sleeping in Al-Hassba in Sana'a, when someone came and asked me if I wanted to travel to Saudi Arabia,” said the boy. He spoke of mistreatment he suffered along with many other children when they fell into the hands of soldiers at Yemeni checkpoints. These soldiers refused to let them pass unless they paid 5,000 Yemeni Riyals.

The child described his situation in Saudi Arabia as dire, saying that he was a beggar and then a camel herder for an unspecified period of time. He did not get a wage, but got paid in food and water. He said that he was compelled to steal some money and a pistol and run away.

Another child, tempted by one of his friends, recounted his escape that ended in him becoming a beggar in Saudi Arabia. Later on, he worked together with his friend as a metal seller, collecting 500 Saudi Riyals over 45 days.

“I bought clothes and came back to Sana'a. Now, I have no money even to pay for transport,” said the boy.

The report told of scenes of children riding donkeys on their way to the Saudi border, while others walked long distances.

Adel Dabwan, Social Defense official at the Ministry, said that the numbers of trafficked children is falling. In his speech, he said that “the number of children trafficked into Saudi Arabia last year reached more than 20,000 persons, but numbers of children trafficked [have] come down due to the spread of awareness and the address of the problem by the mass media.”

Dabwan added that families looked at the trafficking of children as a good thing without evaluating its risks, “but now they understand well such risks and refuse to hand their children to traffickers, though they live [through] hard economic situations.”

He welcomed the use of cartoon characters in the forthcoming film for “children imitate cartoon characters they watch.”

Nassim Abdul-Rahman, UNICEF Representative in Yemen, highlighted the role played by the organization in creating awareness about children issues)especially trafficking)and its attempt to find solutions for them.

“Yemen has started to [become] aware of hazards, and it tries to [make] them right,” Al-Rahman said.