13th August 2007: On Saturday, 18 August 2007 at 1430 GMT, Al Jazeera English will take a revealing look at the appalling conditions facing many of the ten million Asian labourers in the Gulf most of whom come from Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. During a three month investigation, Al Jazeera English reporters gained unprecedented access to labour camps and workers in the region, demonstrating how the labourers’ desire to help their families and improve their financial situation is exploited as they are forced to work in inhumane conditions far from home.
“I ask that my family not grieve for me…the financial pain I face here is too much.” So read the suicide note of Selva Kumar Thangavel, an Indian labourer in Dubai who killed himself in 2005 after revealing that he was unable to repay the US$1,200 illegal finder fee to the agent who recruited him. According to the Indian Embassy, in 2006, 109 Indian labourers committed suicide in the UAE alone.
Using undercover footage and interviews with labourers in Qatar and the UAE, regional labour experts and Asian Embassy officials, Al Jazeera English will bring viewers inside this troubling world of exploitation, outlining the difficulties facing Asian workers on their journeys from their villages to vast labour camps and dangerous construction sites. The workers, charged by their local recruiters up to US$1,600, or two years salary, to find jobs in the region, leave their families behind and relocate to the Gulf labour camps, where they often work in 50 degrees heat and facing life-threatening industrial accidents, all for between US$5 and $7 a day.
Working undercover, Al Jazeera English speaks with a number of Asian recruiting agencies and shows the prevalence of charging workers the illegal recruiting fee. Al Jazeera English will also take viewers inside the labour camps, visiting the sprawling ‘Sonapour’ – or ‘City of Gold’ camp in Dubai, which houses 100,000 Asian labourers and chronicles their dire living conditions. With recruiting agents, companies and government officials pointing fingers at one another, Al Jazeera English asks the tough question: is enough being done to improve the appalling conditions facing Asian labourers in the Gulf?
Al Jazeera English bring viewers the human side of this tragedy, demonstrating how the Asian labourers’ hopes and dreams for a better life are often met by the stark reality of life in the Gulf.
‘Blood Sweat and Tears’ will be aired at the following times on Al Jazeera English:
Sat 18th Aug 1430 GMT, 2230 GMT
Sun 19th Aug 0230 GMT, 1230 GMT
Mon 20th Aug 0030 GMT, 0730 GMT
Tue 21st Aug 0600 GMT, 1330 GMT
Wed 22nd Aug 1130 GMT, 1930 GMT
Thu 23rd Aug 0530 GMT
Fri 24th Aug 0300 GMT, 1630 GMT
Sat 25th Aug 0630 GMT
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About Al Jazeera English
Al Jazeera English is the world’s first English language news and current affairs channel to be headquartered in the Middle East. Broadcasting from within the Middle East, looking outwards, Al Jazeera English sets the news agenda and acts as a bridge between cultures. With unique access as the channel of reference for Middle East events, and broadcast centres strategically placed around the world in Doha, Kuala Lumpur, London and Washington DC, Al Jazeera English balances the information flow from South to North, providing accurate, impartial and objective news for a global audience from a grass roots level, giving voice to different perspectives from under-reported regions around the world.
Al Jazeera English is building on the ground-breaking heritage of its sister Arab-language channel – Al Jazeera, which was responsible for changing the face of news within the Middle East, now extending that fresh perspective from regional to global.
Visit www.aljazeera.net/english for more details.
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