Saudi Arabia returns 70 Yemeni children [Archives:2006/951/Local News]

June 1 2006

SANA'A, May 31 ) Saudi Arabian authorities recently returned 70 Yemeni children who earlier had infiltrated Saudi territories in search of employment.

A border guard source told the Yemeni ruling party's Mu'tamar Net, which published the news Wednesday, that border guard forces this week aborted an attempt to smuggle two girls captured with another individual following a rugged route heading toward Saudi border areas.

The source affirmed that authorities handed over the individual accused of smuggling the two children to security authorities for interrogation and will send him to General Prosecution as a prelude to trying him according to law.

For his part, the director of Hardh border crossing's social care center said in a statement to the same source that the 70 children his center received this month range in age from six to 15. He pointed out that the center forced the children's families to offer written pledges to not allow them to go abroad again in quest of work.

For her part, a Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor official in charge of fighting child labor attributed the reason for children heading for Saudi border areas to look for work to lack of consciousness among families, affirming that such incidents occur due to poverty and for child trafficking purposes because it is propagated.

Ministry official Muna Salem told media she discussed the subject with several U.S. officials and international organizations during her recent participation in a 30-day child smuggling project in the United States. Whereas 14 African and European nations participated in the project, only two Arab states participated – Jordan and Yemen.

Salem mentioned understanding shown by officials and specialists she met at U.S. Congress, the Pentagon, the judiciary and other organizations, adding that Yemeni children searching for work in Saudi border areas actually is part of the child labor question, since it's done with their families' permission and has nothing to do with child trafficking, to which the U.S. State Department points in some of its reports on Yemen, depending on what some media propagate in this regard.

She said at the conclusion of their meetings, project participants and U.S. organizers praised ongoing coordination between the Yemeni and Saudi governments and measures Yemen's government is taking to curb the problem.

Salem pointed out that during her participation in project meetings, she acquainted herself with an experiment involving five U.S. states dealing with child trafficking problems, adding that, “Our situation in Yemen is much better, if compared with the problems of some countries that traffic in children and human organs.”