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May 18, 2020

NGO Coalition Calls on All Gulf Countries to Protect Migrant Workers

A coalition of NGOs and trade unions, including Humanity United, has sent letters urging Gulf countries to include protections for migrant workers in their responses to the global Covid-19 outbreak. This is the same coalition and asks that were sent in a letter to Qatar last month.

The joint letter was sent to Ministries of Labor and UK-based Embassies of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. Some countries have responded, others have acknowledged receipt, and some have yet to do either.

The letters make five asks of Gulf governments:

  • Ensure that all workers, quarantined or otherwise, whose living conditions leave them particularly vulnerable to infection, are tested and provided with appropriate medical treatment, and that undocumented workers can seek medical treatment without fear of detention.
  • Ensure that no one, including migrant workers, is detained for violating the quarantine. Detention is counterproductive to protecting public health in the COVID-19 context, as detention facilities further increase vulnerability to infection. Ensure that all workers who have been detained previously are tested with their consent; provided with adequate medical care if needed; and released from detention with the possibility of self-isolation where necessary.
  • Ensure that migrant workers who are unable to work, either due to preventive quarantine or testing positive for COVID-19, continue to receive their full wages.
  • Provide the public with information to ensure that migrant workers, including domestic workers, do not face discrimination or stigma in relation to the COVID-19 virus.
  • In light of their acute vulnerability, ensure domestic workers are provided with access to timely and adequate protective measures and healthcare, and receive sick pay if they are unable to work due to illness.

The letter’s signatories include: AFL-CIO, Amnesty International, Building & Woodworkers International, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Equidem, Equidem Nepal, Fair/ Square, Francois Crepeau, Global Labor Justice, Human Rights Watch, Humanity United, International Transport Workers Federation, International Trade Union Confederation, Migrant Forum in Asia, Migrant-Rights, and Solidarity Center.

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