With factional fighting threatening a cache of ancient manuscripts in Timbuktu, a reader wonders whether governments do enough to safeguard treasures during conflict. Other letter topics today: solutions to human trafficking, travel ban troubles, fake grass and education report.
In the line of fire
I read with considerable interest your lead opinion on Wednesday (A genuine will to combat human trafficking bane). I agree that by inviting the special UN rapporteur on trafficking, the UAE is demonstrating the political will to respond to the formidable challenge, particularly as it affects victims from poor and deprived families.
Because the problem is complicated and multidimensional, action needs to be taken on many fronts for prevention, protection and prosecution. Thus governments and stakeholders from several countries must cooperate to meet the threat of increasing traffickers' networks.
As you mentioned, the subject is no longer taboo, so one can seek the best knowledge and experience available, not only through the UN system but also by drawing on good and successful practices in other parts of the world.
In this context, and as a retired Unicef worker myself, I would like to draw your attention to the excellent work being done by an Indian based international NGO called Apne Aap, which has gained global acclaim. Apne Aap organises marginalised women and girls in self-empowerment groups to build a movement to end sex trafficking.
Three categories of women and girls are involved: victims and survivors of sex trafficking, women at risk of sex trafficking, and women and girls who are vulnerable to sex trafficking. The key strategy is to break the cycle of poverty and discrimination that forces women into prostitution.
As a first step, Apne Aap and experts from the UN could meet with Middle East partners and draw up an effective and sustainable action plan to cope with the challenge we face. The UAE has the means of supporting and activating such a group of committed humanitarians to serve a very noble cause.
Baquer Namazi, Dubai
Travel ban mix-up affects many of us
I congratulate The National for saying something on the topic of travel bans (Emirati travel ban mix-ups due to 'bad implementation', April 11). But this is also an issue that impacts expatriates as well.
I, for one, am banned from having an employment permit by the Ministry of Interior. But my ban is very strange: I can enter the UAE from Dubai but I can not obtain a visa in any of the other emirates.
I have been told I have a similar name with someone else who is officially banned. It's been two months since I was told officials were working to fix the mix up.
This delay has cost me greatly. I have investment and business interests in Ajman, but if I leave I'll lose every thing.
Rasheed Ahmad, Ajman
Proof that grass is not greener
If you need a lawn in the desert, perhaps fake grass, like that being installed at Yas Marina Circuit, is the more environmental choice (Faking it: why artificial grass makes sense, April 6). But a better idea would be natural landscaping that uses native plants that are adapted to the local environment.
Zvi Baranoff, US
In Hemet, California, a retirement city where the average age at one time was over 70, people have come up with a brilliant mix of the two: they have nothing but rocks in front of their homes ... and they paint them green.
John Francis, US
Protect Mali's past as conflict grows
I've always wanted to go to Timbuktu, but maybe not right now
(Timbuktu acts to save its treasures, April 12).
The factional fighting there is threatening a wonderful cache of ancient manuscripts. It reminds me of the looting of Egyptian antiquities last year.
There must be some way we can safeguard treasures during conflict.
Will Dilthey, Dubai
Wrong way to reform education
Your article is 100 per cent correct (We need authority, teachers tell Adec, April 12).
I worked for a provider in Abu Dhabi for 18 months and was totally frustrated at Adec's almost daily change of plans on almost every issue connected with school reform.
As a seasoned educator with extensive teaching and leadership in public and private schools in many countries, I can say without fear of contradiction that the people at Adec cause confusion and frustration among the principals and teachers in Abu Dhabi's schools.
As for the director general's statement that feedback is needed from the ground up, that is nothing more than a statement to appease the critics.
Educational reform in the UAE will never make any progress while ADEC has the "do as we tell you" attitude that still exists.
Ian AM Robertson, Japan