To tackle a serious problem in its society:Yemen in world congress Against Child Labor [Archives:2004/737/Last Page]

May 13 2004
Opening session of the congress with children from all over the world
Opening session of the congress with children from all over the world
As part of its attempt in tackling child labor problems, the Yemeni government has facilitated the participation of a Yemeni delegation to a 3-day international congress against child labor that started in Florence, Italy on May 10.
The participants include 14-year-old Yemeni girl Zamzam Qassim Mohammed along with Chaperone Akram Al-Junaid, who is a health expert with significant contributions in promoting rights of children.
Zamzam Qassim had a history of suffering as a child. Both her parents died in a young age, leaving her with little hope and a dim future until she found refuge at the Center for Rehabilitation of Working Children. According to the Center's Manager, Mr. Isam Al-Fadhly, Zamzam worked in selling basic simple goods in the streets.
Her father died many years ago and she enrolled to the rehabilitation center in January 2003.
Mr. Al-Fadhly said that “Zamzam gets a monthly allowance to cover her expenses in compensation for the money she used to earn from working. Her mother had died recently after leaving work due to illness and hence resulted in difficult economic conditions that made Zamzam become a child worker before she enrolled in the center.”
A number of difficulties could have jeopardized the participation of the Yemeni delegation. But the quick action by the Italian embassy in Sanaa enabled the delegation members to get their visas and fly to Italy for this important event.

Zamzam's statement at congress
In a statement to participants at the congress in the first day, Zamzam said she insisted on participating in the event even though her mother died three weeks ago because she wanted to tell her story and focus on the child labor problem in Yemen.
“I started working after my father died. I urge all families to ensure that their children remain with them as I have suffered tremendously for not having a family by my side.” she said.
“Children who leave their homes and schools end in the street, which is a very dangerous place for any child. I have seen many children having to leave their homes and find jobs so they can support themselves and continue their studies.
I started working at an young age to support my family and to continue studying. I hope that no more children would suffer like I did.”
At the end of her statement she appealed to the world and to the international community and civil society organizations to “help working children pursue their studies to have proper education and learn a skill that would enable them to survive.”
Yemen suffers from an acute problem of child labor. With roughly more than half a million working children, the situation of child labor in Yemen is considered one of the worst in the world.
It is hoped that the conference could help Yemen focus more on this issue, and drive attention of the international community to the plight of a significant portion of the Yemeni population, i.e., working children.