March 31, 2011
Nepali migrant workers should familiarize themselves with an organization based in Qatar call Migrant Rights Organization. Its website is dedicated to raising awareness of the plight of migrant/expatriate workers in the Middle East.
The website includes latest news and videos of migrant-labor-related situations, as well as a breakdown of working conditions of countries in the Gulf and Northern Africa.
It is excellent source material for lists of abusive employers, recruitment agencies, deaths and suicides, racism and occurrences of slavery.
It also has a separate file on women migrant workers – mostly employed as housemaids – discussing the issues of rape and trafficking.
According to the organization’s manifest:
Expatriate workers are a crucial part of the fabric of Gulf society and economy, where they make up to 80% of the population in some states. While many work in white-collar jobs or are successful businessmen and highly skilled professionals, the majority of foreigners working in the Gulf are involved in manual labour or work as domestics and drivers.
We have all benefited from the toil of these workers. Whether we are a Qatari citizen who has grown up with a team of domestic staff at home, a Saudi woman who relies on her Pakistani driver to go to visit her girlfriends, or a western expat who benefits from a Filipino cleaning lady and works in a smart, modern office tower that was build from the back-breaking work of Nepalis, Indian, Pakistanis and Bangladeshis, we all owe these individuals a debt of gratitude. Yet instead these individuals are undervalued, ignored, exploited and denied their most basic human rights. This is modern day slavery.
On March 31, 2010, Migrant Rights.Org published its latest report on Nepali workers and the difficulty in documenting the number of missing persons. Below, is the article in full:
The Nepali government has had some difficult lessons to learn from the crises in Libya and Japan. A lack of reliable data proved a major stumbling block in its attempts help stranded citizens in recent weeks, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has admitted that consular staff wasted a lot of time ‘ trying to locate people.’ The Ministry of Labour and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have since announced plans to compile an official database of Nepali migrant labourers so that the ‘information gap’ will not leave citizens cut off from support in emergencies.
Some figures on labour migration exist in Nepal, but data is patchy and does not take into account the huge numbers of Nepalis who migrate to the Middle East and East Asia through unofficial/illegal channels.
We often receive requests from readers and journalists asking for data on migrant labourers in the Middle East. The problem is that very little data has been compiled by sending countries, and that the figures which exist are unreliable at best. We see the Nepali government’s move to prepare a database of migrant workers as a step in the right direction, and hope that they will pay adequate attention to the groups of people that are most likely to migrate through unofficial channels, especially women traveling illegally to the Middle East to work as housemaids.
Below is an extract from an article in the Himalayan Times by Leknath Pandey:
Yesterday, Chief Secretary Madhav Prasad Ghimire called Foreign Secretary Dr Madan Kumar Bhattarai and Labour Secretary Dinesh Hari Adhikari, among others, at his office and directed them to prepare a database of Nepali migrant workers immediately.
“During rescue efforts in Libya, we spent a lot of time locating our people,” said an official of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA), who attended yesterday’s meeting. “We faced a similar ordeal in Japan.”
The meeting formed a taskforce for database preparation with MoFA Joint-Secretary Dhananjaya Jha and Purna Chandra Bhattarai, Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Labour and Transport Management (MoLTM), as members.
Executive Director of the Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB) Sthaneshwor Devkota admitted neither government nor outsourcing agencies have complete and credible statistics on the Nepalis working in the Gulf. “With half the migrant workers undocumented, we are finding it hard to compile their data,” said Devkota. Women working in the Gulf are mostly undocumented, as most of them fly to the region as domestic workers through illegal channels. The official channel is MoLTM and Department of Foreign Employment Department (DoFE). DoFE has record of only 23,000 women of 2,00,000 believed to be working in the Gulf.
The government is monitoring Nepalis working in Gulf countries amid protests in Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia. With martial law imposed in Bahrain, migrant workers’ troubles have increased.
Foreign Secretary Bhattarai said the taskforce will collect details of the Nepalis and store it in a website. “The record will be helpful in rescuing migrant workers during emergencies,” said Dr Bhattarai.