Kuwait's Migrant Workers Suffer Without Food, Money And Transport In Lockdown
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A viral video doing the rounds shows an Indian man repeatedly asking “Wayn nom?” (Where do I sleep?). “Room maafi, hamam maafi, akal maafi, wayn nom?” (No room, no bathroom, no food, where do we sleep?).

This is the second such case that has been brought to light after we covered the story about 70 Indian workers living in the open beside a building in Farwaniya.

The man in the video was also living out in the open with other workers for the last 10 days, exposed not only to the drizzles, heat and dust but also the risk of catching the dreaded coronavirus.

The group had approached the Indian Embassy for assistance but the security at the check post didn’t allow them to enter. No one from the Embassy visited to check on them or to offer any assistance. One gentleman said he spoke to an Embassy contact on the phone who took all their information but they had no response since.

We were unable to track the whereabouts of this particular group and have since had no updates.

A few of them had valid passports and others had travel documents issued by the Embassy but because the amnesty period had ended, they were all left playing a waiting game. With no space at the shelter and having been thrown out of their earlier accommodations they were left to fend for themselves.

Some were so desperate that they were even ready to go to jail just to get some reprieve from being homeless and hungry.

And the sad fact is that they are not alone. Following the Covid-19 outbreak, thousands of migrant workers have been terminated by their employers or left without salaries.  With no money for food and rent, their condition is just going from bad to worse.

Attempts have been made to provide necessities, but the demand far exceeds the supply and often does not reach those that are really in need. Their only hope becomes  community service organizations but the lockdown and difficulties in getting permits, makes that challenging as well.

The question that arises is – who is to blame for their misfortune? The unprecedented pandemic, the migrant workers themselves, the local government and embassies that are supposed to protect their rights or the sponsors who only focus on their business?

What everyone easily forgets is that it is these same workers that fuel the local economy and their home countries also rely on their remittances. Now they find themselves ruthlessly abandoned by all parties.

Who do we hold accountable? Who is responsible to hold the other accountable? How do we get them some reprieve?

Perhaps everyone has a part to play.

In Kuwait, the Public Authority for Manpower, is the designated government entity under the Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor for the management of labor relations. However, not much is being done from their side.
Transferring responsibility to the respective embassies is an easy way out. Embassies are trying to intervene where they can but are not doing enough. Protocol or no protocol.

Helpful individuals, organizations and charities try to aid but can only do so much with the limitations of the lockdown, resources, and funds. However, is it really their responsibility to care for these individuals?

In this scenario, should the government and embassies not taken stern action against the sponsors to help get the workers their basic human rights so they can also live or leave in dignity?

The debate is ongoing and in meanwhile, these poor workers continue to suffer the side effects of this deadly pandemic.

By Nita Bhatkar



23 May, 2020 0 1417
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