Displaced child taken home by government
Updated: 2011-05-04 08:08
By Shao Wei (China Daily)
URUMQI - A displaced native child of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region in Northwest China went back to the region's capital Urumqi on Monday evening as the first person to return home following the regional government's pledge in late April to bring back local children who are wandering in other parts of the country.
Arkbel Usuf and another Uygur girl are ready to enjoy their dinner at the Urumqi SOS Children's Village in the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region on Monday. Zhang Wande / for China Daily
The 10-year-old Uygur boy, Arkbel Usuf, was taken by a relative a month ago to Harbin, a city in Northeast China's Heilongjiang province, to work in the "roast lamb business".
"Since my uncle couldn't finish that business, we strayed around the city for nearly a month," the boy recalled. "He left me alone at the railway station last week. I couldn't find him.
"I was frightened and cried loudly for nearly an hour. Two policemen found me and saved me."
Police spent four days in vain looking for the boy's uncle and then sent the boy to Xinjiang by train.
During a welcome dinner on Monday evening, Shiedat, a teacher at the Urumqi SOS Children's Village whom Arkbel and other students there consider to be a "new mother", prepared traditional dishes for her "youngest son".
"I made mansaf and 'big plate chicken' for my son," Shiedat said. "He liked them very much."
"He didn't talk much last night," said Gulinar, the 16-year-old "new sister" of Arkbel. "But I am sure we'll get on well with each other."
The boy, who had little hope of attending school where his family lives in Kuqa county in southern Xinjiang, said he felt happy to be in the Children's Village in Urumqi.
"At my new home here, I have a chance to get schooling," Arkbel explained.
"I miss my family and my mom. I hate my uncle."
The boy said he has a big family in Kuqa, consisting of parents, two sisters and grandparents. But he doesn't know his home address.
The regional civil affairs department said it's trying its best to find the boy's family. If successful in that quest, it will take steps to make his return easier.
"We offer physical examinations, psychological consultations, free accommodations and education to vagrant kids before they reunite with their families," said Sun Haiyu, director of relief management office with the department.
From April 23 until Sunday, the regional government had sent teams of investigators to search for vagrant children in 19 provinces and municipalities that regularly offer aid to Xinjiang, including Beijing, Shanghai and Guangdong.
"The search work is now advancing smoothly," Sun said. "We'll work closely with the civil affairs departments in these provinces and cities, and set up a long-term, effective channel to bring vagrant children back home."
A report from the Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences said at least 90 percent of the children it is trying to return home are victims of kidnapping. Most of them are from poor areas in southern Xinjiang, including Hotan, Aksu and Kashgar, where child trafficking is rampant.
Many of the children receive little schooling and are too young to know their parents' addresses or phone numbers well enough to give that information to authorities.
The Ministry of Public Security vowed on April 26 to spare no efforts in trying to save children from Xinjiang who had been kidnapped and forced to commit crimes.
Police departments across the country began a severe crackdown on those who kidnap Xinjiang children and force them to commit crimes, according to Zhang Xinfeng, vice-minister of public security.
Zhang said the crackdown is aimed at protecting the rights of children and ensuring the social stability of Xinjiang and the entire country.
Last week, police in Wenzhou, East China's Zhejiang province, rescued nine young Xinjiang natives who had been kidnapped and forced to rob and steal. They also cut off a channel used to bring kidnapped children from Xinjiang to Wenzhou.
Police in Kunming, Southwest China's Yunnan province, saved six young Xinjiang natives, ranging in age from 13 to 15, on Monday. They also apprehended 12 suspects.
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