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Tue 9 Dec 2008 11:43 AM

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Vietnam seeks talks on Qatar's work-visa ban

Officials travel to Gulf state after it reportedly stops issuing new visas to Vietnamese workers.

Vietnamese officials have travelled to Qatar to discuss a reported ban on new migrant labourers from their country because of crime among some Vietnamese in the Gulf state, an official said on Tuesday.

Media reports in Vietnam last week said Qatar had stopped issuing visas to Vietnamese workers because some had become notorious for robbing their compatriots, fighting, gambling and illegally making alcohol.

"We heard about the decision, but we have not received any official statement or document yet from the Qatar side on this issue," said Nguyen Ngoc Quynh, deputy head of the state-run Overseas Labour Department.

"We have sent a team to Qatar to study the issue. We will discuss this with Qatar, because Vietnam and Qatar in January signed a labour agreement."

Last week, Vietnam's state-run Tien Phong (Pioneer) newspaper reported that Vietnamese guest workers in Qatar were notorious for "fighting, strikes, gambling, theft, robbery and the illegal production of alcoholic drinks."

A gang of about 50 Vietnamese had committed armed robberies against their compatriots and stolen their money and mobile telephones, it said.

The newspaper said Qatar had informed Vietnamese diplomats in Doha of the visa suspension, but the report did not cite any officials by name, and it did not specify when the ban started or how long it would last.

Last month, the Czech Republic suspended new visas for Vietnamese until the end of the year, citing concerns over criminality in its Vietnamese community involving counterfeit goods, tax evasion and cannabis-growing.

Vietnam's communist government promotes sending migrant workers abroad to generate remittances and keep down unemployment in the country of 86 million.

Last year, Vietnam sent 85,000 workers overseas - mostly to Malaysia, Taiwan, South Korea and other Asian countries. It targets sending 100,000 workers abroad per year by 2010, with the Middle East seen as a growth area.

About 10,000 Vietnamese work in gas-rich Qatar, and Vietnam's government has said it hopes to step up the programme over next three years.

Experts on Vietnam's migrant-labour sector have documented many cases of fraud and abuse of labourers, some of whom spend years in overseas jobs without making money because of high upfront costs and additional expenses.

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Kaptain 11 years ago

Some of them spend years in overseas jobs without making money because of high upfront costs and additional expenses. These people have to make money due to pressure from their home countries where they have undertaken a loan, or have to get their daughters and sisters married, or get their children educated. Smaller means don't give a guarantee, hence the vice steps in. Governments should contribute and study the living conditions and collect the overall well being level of the people including satisfaction. These statistics should then flow in national and international rules and regulations to protect workers and their monies, this would surely add to the good and reduction of crime. But who is going to do this arduous and tedious job? Study should include the universities' projects to cater more information sharing and better understanding. But then again, eviction is easy rather comprehensive help being meted out.

The Sicilian 11 years ago

I remember reading an article in Emirates Today a couple of years back where one major construction company hired a company which provided living services to workers. It provided decent, comfortable apartments for three workers each with bathroom and kitchen, recreation room, barber, even internet services. These types of solutions should be made law so that these people just like their Indian brethren can achieve their goal of making a living for their families. I find it completely unfair to pay these people 250 or 300 dollars a month without affording them dignified, safe living quarters with the necessary services such as a cafeteria or medical care. After all, it is the sweat of these people that create such beautiful places like Palm Island or the Dubai Tower.