Category Archives: Oman

Migrant maids in Oman at risk as India scraps rescue scheme

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India’s decision to scrap a financial guarantee scheme for migrant domestic workers in Oman will make it harder for maids who are abused or unpaid to get home, campaigners said on Tuesday.

The Indian embassy in Oman issued a notice on Monday, saying it was scrapping the scheme because employers and recruitment agencies said it was discouraging them from hiring. Continue reading

‘No Food, No Pay’: 800 Indian Workers Stranded in Oman Tell All

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The workers have even written to the Indian embassy in Muscat. (Photo Courtesy: Rejimon Kuttapan)

After the 5 rials (around Rs 800) given by the Indian embassy on Tuesday to meet emergencies exhausts, we will be again in the same situation. No money even for emergencies. Uncertainty on what to do is haunting us a lot.

These were the words of around 800 Indian workers who are stranded in an industrial town in Oman, without proper food, drinking water, shelter and valid work permit cards for the last few weeks.

“We were not even having proper food for the last few weeks. It was stale food we were getting. There was no money to buy some drinking water too… We thought that we will die here,” a worker said.

“Now, the embassy has given us a little money. But after that what…,” the worker added. Continue reading

Sri Lanka’s war widows trafficked as slaves to Gulf

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When Nathkulasinham Nesemalhar took a flight from Colombo to Muscat in March she believed the boarding pass she clutched in her hand was her golden ticket to a better life after decades of war where she lost everything, including her husband.

The 54-year-old widow from Sri Lanka’s former war zone had been promised work as a maid for an affluent family in the Gulf state of Oman. She would get a nice room, decent working hours and 30,000 rupees ($150) a month – enough to pay off her debts.

But Nesemalhar’s dream soon turned into a nightmare. She found herself enslaved with other women in a dimly-lit room with no ventilation, miles from Muscat. She was taken out daily, sent to different homes to clean, and then locked up again at night. Continue reading

Migrant Workers in the Gulf Feel Pinch of Falling Oil Prices

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A labour camp in Dubai. Workers are allocated sleeping quarters based on nationality, and the number of occupants may be as high as eight per room. Credit: S. Irfan Ahmed/IPS

In the Al Quoz industrial area of Dubai in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a number of medium and large-sized buses can be spotted transporting workers clad in company uniforms to distant worksites early in the morning. In the evening or, in certain cases, late at night, these workers are brought back to labour camps in the same buses.

At the camps, the migrant workers barely have time to rest before the next workday. They huddle inside small, dingy quarters and the number of occupants may rise up to eight per room. With their belongings stuffed into every corner, they hardly have space to move and are vulnerable to catch infections from each other. Their day starts too early as they have to cook their food to carry to the site and ends late due to long journeys amid frequent traffic jams. Continue reading

Bangladesh workers abroad face hard time

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Mizanur Rahman, a mason at a construction firm in Saudi Arabia, is worried about losing his job. His employer has recently expressed inability to continue some of the ongoing projects due to financial crisis.

The lone breadwinner of a five-member family from Faridpur cannot even begin to imagine what would happen to his family if he loses the job.

“We are not getting our wages for the last six months. We are still working for the company, hoping the situation would change soon,” said Mizanur, who has been working for Saudi Oger, one of the largest construction firms in Saudi Arabia, for around four years.

“But there is no sign of improvement… Rather, our employer has told us that he may suspend some of the projects for fund crisis,” the 40-year-old migrant worker told The Daily Star over the phone from the kingdom yesterday. Continue reading

The plight of undocumented Indian workers who migrate to Muscat

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“I want to go back to Muscat to earn as I am not getting a good job in my own country,” says 56-year-old Appukuttan who met his family in India after living miserably for 22 years as an undocumented worker in Muscat. All these years, he has missed the big moments of his personal life. He hasn’t seen his children as they grew up, was not present for the last rites of his mother nor has he been able to live with his wife.

Like all other migrant workers, he moved to Muscat in the hope of getting a job but became an undocumented worker. After doing all kinds of menial jobs like driving and rag picking he has now come back to his home in Kerala. Even after spending a desolate time in Muscat, he wants to go back abroad to earn for his family because the financial conditions have not improved but worsened. Currently, he lives with his mother-in-law in a thatched roof house. He says that his wife had to mortgage their home for marrying their daughter nine years ago. Continue reading