Tribal sheikhs in Hajja vow to reduce child trafficking [Archives:2008/1171/Local News]

July 10 2008

By: Saddam Al-Ashmori
For the Yemen Times

HAJJA, JULY 8 ) More than 100 local council members and tribal sheikhs signed pledges to reject all forms of child trafficking in Yemen on Saturday.

The pledges were signed after a five-day workshop entitled Together to Combat Child Trafficking, which was organized by the Alternatives to Combat Child Labor through Education and Sustainable Services in the Middle East and North Africa Project, known as ACCESS -MENA.

The workshop, which discussed the alternatives to combat child labor and trafficking through education and sustainable services, aimed to make members of the local councils, sheikhs and dignitaries aware of the risks of child trafficking in the districts of Haradh, Hairan, Aflah Al-Yemen, Aflah Al-Sham and Aslam in the Hajja Governorate. Hajja is one of the Yemeni northern governates, which is believed to have the highest concentration of child trafficking.

At the end of the workshop, the 126 local council members and tribal sheikhs signed the pledges to fight this phenomenon, to effectively make their districts' inhabitants aware of the risks associated with child trafficking and the necessity of enrolling their children in schools.

The pledges also included a commitment to support all efforts to decrease the child trafficking problem and the formation of teams of district citizens to limit child trafficking. The workshop members also pledged to submit recommendations to concerned bodies to find solutions to alleviate poverty and provide the deprived areas with service and developmental projects.

However there are no fix data or studies reveal the accurate numbers of trafficked children due to the lack of facilities at borders required to determine children being sent abroad to work, the vast border region with Saudi Arabia which makes smuggling difficult to control.

Dr. Jamal Al-Haddi, ACCESS Project Manager, took part in the conclusion of the workshop in Aslam district and delivered a speech to the sheikhs and dignitaries of the district urging them to undertake their responsibilities as community leaders to limit the child trafficking phenomenon and said that the proper place for children are the classroom seats.

Such workshops come within the framework of activities and programs performed by the ACCESS-MENA Project which is currently being implemented by Cooperative Housing Foundation, known as CHF International organization in partnership with the Charitable Society for Social Welfare and with the funding by the US Department of Labor.

The ACCESS-MENA project has made several interventions to combat child trafficking including the re-enrollment of 206 children in school, protecting 1,416 children from dropping out of school, and repairing and maintaining the nine schools targeted by the project, in addition to providing them with social and cultural centers and electrical generators.