Thousands of children in UAE have no access to schooling: Report

An investigation says many children also go without medical care as they have no birth certificates.

photo taken on January 24, 2022 shows seagulls flying across Abu Dhabi's seaside
High lifestyle standards, private education and healthcare are enjoyed by the country’s citizens and white-collar immigrant employees [AFP]

Thousands of migrant children in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) go without schooling and healthcare, according to a story by The Washington Post.

Many of the children are without birth certificates because they were born without married parents, because their families could not pay hospital bills, or for other reasons, the news report said on Sunday, quoting residents.

“My sons have not been to school; they don’t have a visa or a passport. It is a very big issue. They cry – they really want to go to school,” Chinwe, an immigrant who could not pay a $16,000 medical bill, told the newspaper.

Foreigners outnumber locals nearly nine to one in the UAE, the vast majority of them being low-paid workers from underdeveloped countries.

Babies of single mothers are largely refused birth certificates although premarital sex has been recently legalised in the Gulf country.

According to the report, two senior Philippine government officials said that just within the country’s Filipino migrant community, the number of undocumented children runs in the thousands.

High lifestyle standards, private education, and medical care are enjoyed by the country’s citizens and white-collar immigrant employees in the oil-rich Gulf state, which is one the world’s top wealthiest countries per capita.

‘I lost everything’

The country’s labour sponsorship system, which employs millions of low-paid workers from Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, is also problematic, the news report said.

The system has long drawn accusations of mistreatment for failing to ensure fair wages, hours and living conditions as well as labour abuses.

“I lost everything and have nothing,” Pearl, a Filipina restaurant worker, who gave birth a daughter last March, told The Washington Post.

Pearl said the baby was premature, and the bill for her two-month stay in the neonatal intensive care unit amounted to $29,000, more than three years’ pay.

Source: Al Jazeera