95,000 people 'enslaved' in Gulf states, says charity

Majority of those living in slavery in region are in Saudi Arabia, according to Walk Free Foundation
95,000 people 'enslaved' in Gulf states, says charity
(Photo for illustrative purposes only)
By Andy Sambidge
Fri 18 Oct 2013 10:15 AM

Nearly 100,000 people are living in slavery across the Gulf, according to a new global index by charity Walk Free Foundation.

A total of 95,411 people living in the region are "enslaved", a majority of which are in Saudi Arabia (57,504), noted the index which ranked 162 countries on the number living in slavery, the risk of enslavement, and the strength of government responses to combating the illegal activity.

Saudi Arabia was the worst offender in the Gulf, ranked 82nd while the UAE (18,713) was placed 88th, Bahrain (2,679) and Qatar (4,168) were ranked equal 96th, Oman (5,739) was three places lower with Kuwait (6,608) in 100th place.

Globally, nearly 30 million people are living in slavery across the globe, many of them men, women and children trafficked by gangs for sex work and unskilled labour, according to the index.

It found that 10 countries accounted for 76 percent of the 29.8 million people living in slavery - India, China, Pakistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh.

Modern slavery was defined as human trafficking, forced labour, and practices such as debt bondage, forced marriage, and the sale or exploitation of children.

Earlier this year, the United Nations International Labour Organisation said as many as 600,000 migrants workers were tricked and trapped into forced labour across the Middle East.

About 94 percent of workers In Qatar are migrants, while in Saudi Arabia it's 50 percent, according to the 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.

According to the US Department of State’s annual review, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are still among the worst countries for human trafficking and are not making any significant efforts to improve.

The UAE, Qatar and Oman also do not fully comply with the minimum standards for combating human trafficking, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance, it said, adding that while Bahrain has some measures in place, it has not stepped up its efforts in recent years and the number of people forced into labour in the country remains significantly high.

The Gulf states were identified as being key markets for men and women who voluntarily travel from Asian and African countries such as Bangladesh, India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Vietnam, Burma, as domestic workers or low-skilled labourers.

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