Sharjah Police Officers Provide Food and Shelter to Homeless Workers
By: Noureldin Mohamed/Arab America Contributing Writer
Workers in the UAE, specifically the city of Sharjah, were rescued by Sharjah police after living in a building under construction. Most of those workers are from India who came to the UAE on work visas to do specific jobs for very little wages. They are now taken care of at a Sharjah Police Academy center.
On June 28, Sharjah Police has provided accommodation to 280 Asian workers who have been working and staying in an under-construction building in the emirate.
Major General Saif Al Zari Al Shamsi, Commander-in-Chief of Sharjah Police, has directed the authorities in Sharjah police to provide the homeless workers with suitable accommodation after the police received information from the TV show “Al Khat Al Mubasher” (The Direct Line) about workers staying in an under-construction building in an industrial area, despite the unsafe environment and heat of summer.
On its official social media accounts, the Sharjah police posted a video in which it showed the efforts its members had undertaken to provide the workers with food, water and suitable accommodation.
The police added that it will always fulfil its social responsibility toward all members of the society and protect the people – whether citizens or expats.
Al Shamsi noted that the Sharjah Charity International cooperated with the police to help the workers quickly and provide them with the necessary support they needed. He said the police have contacted the workers’ embassies to either return them to their home or change their status according to the law.
Helping Expats Workers Amid Coronavirus Concerns
Earlier this month, Khaleej Times had reported on how Dubai Police had gone to rescue a group of Ghanian expats who were reportedly living in a park in Satwa (community in Dubai) after losing their jobs due to the pandemic.
The unemployed expats moved to an air-conditioned accommodation and had food, water and other essentials while social workers and volunteers worked to get them back to their home country.
Major General Saif Al-Zari Al-Shamsi, Commander-in-Chief of Sharjah Police, has directed his team to ensure the health and safety of the workers in line with the precautionary measures related to COVID-19.
He has also thanked the Sharjah Charity Association for their quick response to such humanitarian situations. Efforts are currently underway to either repatriate the workers or help them amend their status to continue working in the country.
The UAE has reached 53,045 coronavirus cases with 327 deaths and 42,282 recoveries. Recently, UAE has taken severe measures to battle the global pandemic in its own backyard. With restrictions, lockdowns and curfews, the UAE has been able to somewhat control the virus and is on its way to improving testing and other health measures. Although this is true, the UAE economy was hit hard since it relies on tourism, investments and is an internationally professional hub of the Gulf.
Worker Expats: A Human Rights Issue
Some may say that this is a good step toward changing the harsh labor laws in the Middle East and the Arab world. These workers who abandon their home countries and families go overseas to find better opportunities. Their life in their country may seem unbearable to the point that they accept such harsh living conditions and low pay grades.
However, there is a severe human rights issue at play here. Workers in gulf countries are sponsored by a citizen who restricts their freedom. A worker has to perform hard labor with minimum pay. These workers mainly come from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the Philippines.
As many as 11,921 expatriates have left Kuwait, mainly for Egypt and India, in just two days this week aboard a flurry of repatriation flights. In a similar vein, over 7,300 Filipinos from the UAE have flown home since April on emergency flights.
Foreign nationals make up the majority of the population in the GCC countries mainly in Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE, according to the International Labour Organisation (ILO). In Saudi Arabia, the biggest Gulf country, foreigners account for about 10.5 million of the country’s overall 34.8 million population. Expatriates in the GCC states account for over 10% of all migrants globally, while Saudi Arabia and the UAE host respectively the third and fifth largest migrant populations in the world. Migrant workers have long been part and parcel of the Gulf and its vibrant economies.
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