Lost Children’s Care Center helps to reunite families

A pilgrim and his son are reunited at the Lost Children’s Care Center office in Mina on Tuesday after getting separated amid throngs of people performing Hajj. (AN photo)
Updated 22 August 2018

Lost Children’s Care Center helps to reunite families

  • 11 children of different nationalities and ages were reported to the Lost Children’s Care Center since the start of Hajj
  • Many pilgrims opt to bring their children with them for educational purposes or out of necessity

MINA: Pilgrims, like all parents, closely look after their children, but sometimes worshippers lose their offspring during Hajj due to the large crowds of people at the holy sites.

Many pilgrims opt to bring their children with them for educational purposes or out of necessity, especially with younger ones. However, some 11 of these youngsters were lost in Mina over the past two days of the Hajj.

While interviewing Lina Abu Zinada, a supervisor at the Lost Children’s Care Center at the holy sites, in the afternoon, a female pilgrim from Comoros was weeping over losing her ten-year-old child who had been reported lost since morning. The woman also lost her husband while they both were praying at a nearby mosque.

“This pilgrim has lost her child and we are doing our best to find him. She wanted to be taken to a police station as she thought that she could be safer there. We succeeded in calming her down. After a few hours, members of her country’s embassy came and took her to another place,” she said. 

Security men, boy scouts and even volunteers bring them lost children. “Once we receive a lost child, we first take all the details from the person bringing the lost child,” Abu Zinada told Arab News.

“We then document the information and descriptions of the lost child and forward them to our field agents along with the information of the person who brought the lost child. When someone loses a child, all that he or she can do is to reach a security man or anyone who takes them to our field workers. The latter immediately check with us to see if the information is the same,” Abu Zinada said.  

She said that their office had received 11 lost children of different nationalities and ages since this year’s Hajj started. “We managed to help 10 of these children find their parents,” she said. “We feed the network of guidance centers with all information about the lost children so that they can easily inform their parents that they are found and sent to the Lost Children’s Care Center.”

She said that all lost children are taken to their center, whether these children were found in Arafat, Mina or Muzdalifah.

Abu Zinada said that some of the children arrive at their office in such a hysterical state that they refuse to leave the person who brought them in.

“Some others accept the situation and respond to our information inquiry,” she said. She added that the youngest lost child they had found was five years old, while the oldest one was 12. The majority of the lost children were from Africa, she said.

“We have some of our team members who can communicate with the children in different languages beside Arabic. These languages are English, Urdu and French,” she said. She added that they sometimes seek the assistance of street cleaners to help them speak with the lost child.

Arab coalition working to protect region’s security, says spokesman

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki at a press briefing. (SPA file photo)
Updated 19 March 2019

Arab coalition working to protect region’s security, says spokesman

  • Houthis want to disturb peace, says coalition spokesman
  • Stockholm peace agreement under strain

RIYADH: The Arab coalition supporting the internationally recognized Yemeni government is committed to protecting regional and global security, a spokesman said Monday.

Coalition spokesman Col. Turki Al-Maliki was asked at a press briefing about Houthi militias threatening to target the capitals of Saudi Arabia and the UAE.

“This is their way to disturb peace,” Al-Maliki replied. “Previously the Houthis targeted Riyadh with a ballistic missile, violating all international laws by attacking a city that has more than 8 million civilians. We take all precautions to protect civilians and vital areas. The coalition works to protect regional and international security.”

Al-Maliki said Houthis had targeted Saudi border towns several times, the most recent incident taking place in Abha last Friday.

But the Saudi Royal Air Defense Force had shot down a drone that was targeting civilians, he added.

He said four Saudi nationals and an Indian expatriate were injured in the attack because of falling debris.

The drone wreckage showed the characteristics and specifications of Iranian manufacturing, he said, which proved Iran was continuing to smuggle arms to the militias.

He warned the Houthis to refrain from targeting civilians because the coalition, in line with international humanitarian law, had every right to counter such threats.

He said the coalition was making efforts to neutralize ballistic missiles and dismantle their capabilities, as the coalition’s joint command would not allow the militia to possess weapons that threatened civilian lives and peace.

Al-Maliki reiterated that the Houthis were targeting Yemeni civilians and continued to violate international laws. 

He also urged Yemenis to try their best to prevent children from being captured by Houthis, who were using them as human shields and child soldiers.

His comments came as the UN tried to salvage a peace deal that was seen as crucial for ending the country’s four-year war.

The Stockholm Agreement was signed by the Yemeni government and Houthi representatives last December.

The main points of the agreement were a prisoner exchange, steps toward a cease-fire in the city of Taiz, and a cease-fire agreement in the city of Hodeidah and its port, as well as ports in Salif and Ras Issa.

Militants triggered the conflict when they seized the capital Sanaa in 2014 and attempted to occupy large parts of the country. An Arab coalition intervened in support of the internationally recognized government in March 2015.

The World Health Organization estimates that nearly 10,000 people have been killed in Yemen since 2015.

Earlier this month US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that President Donald Trump’s administration opposed curbs on American assistance to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

“The way to alleviate the Yemeni people’s suffering isn’t to prolong the conflict by handicapping our partners in the fight, but by giving the Saudi-led coalition the support needed to defeat the Iranian-backed rebels and ensure a just peace,” Pompeo said at a news conference in Washington.