By Massoud A. Derhally
International Labour Organisation report says safeguards needed to prevent exploitation, abuse
As many as 600,000 migrants workers are tricked and trapped into forced labour across the Middle East, according to the United Nations International Labour Organisation.
"Labour migration in this part of the world is unique in terms of its sheer scale and its exponential growth in recent years," says Beate Andrees.
"The challenge is how to put in place safeguards in both origin and destination countries to prevent the exploitation and abuse of these workers."
ILO's “Tricked and Trapped: Human Trafficking in the Middle East" 150-page report released on Tuesday, interviewed over two years 650 people (including government officials, worker and employer representatives, migrant community leaders, non-governmental organisation officials and migrant workers) in Jordan Lebanon, Kuwait and the UAE.
The report looks at how workers are "tricked and trapped" into forced labour and sexual exploitation, and the constraints that prevent them from leaving.
About 94 percent of workers In Qatar are migrants, while in Saudi Arabia it's 50 percent, according to ILO. It is also estimated that there are over 2 million migrant domestic workers in the Middle East
In the Middle East, the ILO calculated that 3.4 in every 1,000 of the region’s inhabitants are compelled to work against their free choice.
The ILO estimates 20.9 million people across the world are victims of forced labour, of which 68 percent are victims of forced labour exploitation in the private economy, while 22 percent are victims of forced sexual exploitation and the remaining 10 per cent are forced to work by the state.
Unless the Man-power exporting countries of the Sub-Continent and Phillipines become more stringent in the Emigration rules, the Labour Exploitation will continue in the GCC. The Embassies of these Labour-exporting countries should be more active and regularly interact with their citizens in the resident GCC states. Even the minimum salaries should be increased to a reasonable level and work conditions should be more human !
From experience many officials from these labor exporting countries are taking a cut of the "visa fees" that are charged to often uneducated, illiterate workers. It is only after their families' have taken out loans to get them the job and they arrive in the Middle East that these workers realize the harsh reality of a 2 year contract working 6 days a week as manual labor in the glaring sun and residing in labor camps! For those that can't cope, absconding and becoming an illegal is the only option.