The house where the unlicensed nursery functioned. Image Credit: Supplied

Ras Al Khaimah: The Ministry of Social Affairs, aided by Ras Al Khaimah Police, raided an unlicensed nursery and removed 17 children, between the ages of four months and two years, from what inspectors described as squalid conditions.

The discovery has prompted renewed efforts by the ministry to inspect home nurseries across the country, with a campaign expected soon.

The 17 children were found in unhygienic and unsafe conditions, ministry officials said. They were returned to their parents.

The owner of the nursery faces legal action for putting the lives of children at risk and for operating without a license.

Eman Harib, a director at the Ministry of Social Affairs, told Gulf News that the ministry had received a complaint regarding a house located in the Al Dafa area of Ras Al Khaimah. The ministry was informed that the house, consisting of two bedrooms and a hall, had been converted into a nursery.

“I did not believe what I saw... The house looked like a desert house,” Harib said.

The children were found either sleeping or sitting on the floor.

Ministry inspectors also found that the children’s meals had placed on a table, next to a combination of drugs and a bug zapper, a device that attracts and kills flying insects that are attracted by light.

“I saw a bottle of milk belonging to one of the children... I asked the owner about the contents inside. He [said it was] yogurt. But it was untrue. It looked like spoilt milk, due to hot [conditions] inside the room,” Harib said.

There was no air-conditioning in the house and there was a foul smell emanating from inside.

The Arab family running the nursery consisted of three people — two men and an elderly woman of reduced mobility, raising questions as to whether she was capable of caring for her charges, Harib said.

He insisted that the ministry will not tolerate people who turn their homes into a nurseries without obtaining a licence.

The owner of the house claimed that he was unemployed and needed the money.

“The family told inspectors that they received children from 7am until the late hours of the day,” Harib said.

The family also revealed that they only charged Dh300 per child every month and argued that they were much cheaper than most other nurseries.

Harib said that Ministry of Social Affairs had asked Ras Al Khaimah police to see to it that the children underwent medical examinations to ensure they were still in good health.

Harib requested families to think twice about leaving their children in questionable childcare facilities.

He pointed out that there was a nursery near the raided house but added that some parents wanted to save money the wrong way by putting their children at risk.

“I met one of the parents and asked him why he chose this house and put his two children in it. He told me that he knew that family and trusted them, [that] they were his friends.”