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Middle East
Gulf labourers remain stranded
Workers from Bangladesh and Pakistan are without help from UAE authorities.
Last Modified: 05 Aug 2010 15:48 GMT
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Al Jazeera reports from India on labourers' continued desire to work in the Gulf region

Scores of migrant labourers remain stranded in a squalid camp in the United Arab Emirates after the Ministry of Labour refused to help the men.

The 38 workers from Bangladesh and Pakistan are surviving on handouts after their Indian employer abandoned them and fled the country, despite owing the men arrears of ten-months' pay of $220-per-month.

There is no indication of when the group will be paid or be allowed to return home.

They are without electricity in the camp in the emirate of Sharjah despite soaring summer temperatures of well over 40 degrees Celcius, and are under threat of eviction.

Unable to work

The group went to court in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in March over the affair and have said that they have registered their abandoned status, but they have only received new passports in return.

in depth
 

 

 

  Blog: Life as an abandoned worker in the UAE
  Documentary: Blood, Sweat and Tears

Without work visas they are unable to find employment or claim they money they are owed. They are also unable to afford a flight home.

Saher Shaikh, the founder of the non-profit group Adopt-A-Camp, which provides assistance to Gulf labourers, told Al Jazeera that company owners abandon camps and take the firm's remaining money because they cannot afford the running costs.

"In those situations the way the employees are left behind is terrible. No water, no food, no salaries, no power. It's horrendous.

"There are camps which go over all spectrums. And the well-run camps are a joy to behold – wonderful – clean, sparkling and happy men. Really, really good.

"These abandoned camps are at the opposite end of the spectrum. The men are severely depressed, I think that anyone of us would be in 50 degrees heat. No power, no water and no money to send home to families."

Gulf attraction

Labour officials have said that their hands are tied because the men went to court and that it is an isolated case.

But Shaikh said: "The authorities are extremely proactive and supportive in trying to help camps in this situation. [However], this particular camp ... seems to be dragging on for a quite a while.

"The court case was filed in March and the men are still here. So nothing has been done as yet."

Immigrant workers are attracted to the Gulf to earn higher wages than they would receive at home.

Around 12 million foreign workers are estimated to live in the Gulf, where they are banned from forming labour unions.

Source:
Al Jazeera
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