Non-governmental organizations disclosed the conditions in which construction employees live who are stranded in the United Arab Emirates, who also do not have wages, food, or flights back to their countries.
The NGO Humans Rights Watch reported that dozens of construction workers who emigrated to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) they don't pay wages, they're indebted, and they don't have the money to go back to their home countries, amid the coronavirus pandemic.
After losing their jobs because of the current pandemic, immigrants from various Asian countries are overcrowded, malnourished and freed to their fate, without having the chance to return home.
"Suffering is immense. We have virtually no food, no one to help us. We don't have any money and we can't get out of here,"Pakistani worker Hassan,30, says in an interview conducted by the British newspaper The Guardian. The Pakistani immigrant also explains that in his social and economic situation it is impossible for him to buy a plane ticket to take him back to his family.
According to the English media, Hassan emigrated to Dubai a decade ago and lives on the outskirts of the city along with 98 colleagues and virtually none have contact with the construction company for which they worked, which abandoned them completely.
The three-story building with yellow concrete walls where Asian workers reside contains dozens of ramshackle bedrooms, with metal bunk beds. The space is so small that it is impossible for them to comply with the physical distance measures to protect themselves from the Covid-19. The complex is fenced off and guarded by security guards. No one uses the large communal kitchen, where only six months ago there was a great bustle.
"Occasionally people come and go and give us food, but when no one comes, we go hungry because we have nothing to eat," Hassan laments.
The UAE government demanded that companies employing migrant workers continue to provide them with food and accommodation as long as they remained in the country, even if they had been fired. However, many companies have broken the order and left workers at the mercy of food donations.
As if that were not enough, Hassan had surgery two years ago from the heart and since then his employer has deducted 75% of his salary in installments, as his health insurance did not cover the full cost of the operation. Now, he's in danger of his health deteriorating because he doesn't have not only money for his remedies, but for eating. "Since I had surgery, I've been forced to take medication. I used to have health insurance that covered my pills, but now I don'tanymore," says the Pakistani migrant.
Some organizations such as The House of Om,a meditation and yoga community Dubai they provide them with meals already cooked. Claudia Pinto,a member of the community, says that "thesituation is very desperate for these men",who, in addition to going hungry, contracted many debts where they live. Despite that, Pinto emphasizes that for now "it's more important for them to eat something."
"In the last two months, such situations have tripled," says Barney Almazar, a lawyer who provides free legal advice to migrants at monthly meetings at the Philippine embassy in Abu Dhabi and at the Consulate of Dubai. "It's a very serious problem, as many companies can't afford rent and overhead, which has resulted in some companies closing and not being able to pay workers," Almazar explains.