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Article

23 Jul 2020

Author:
Reuters

UAE: Interviews with migrant workers reveal many are reliant on charity for food & owed months of wages

"UAE's migrant workers fret over future in coronavirus economy," 22 Jul 2020

Reuters spoke to over 30 workers like Kapil in Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Sharjah, who all said they are now enduring hardship due to coronavirus. Many have racked up debt and would go hungry without the help of charities as they wait for work and to be paid. Some said they found little reason to stay without work and wanted to return to their home countries despite being owed months of wages; hundreds of thousands have already left. The treatment of migrant workers in the Gulf has come under greater scrutiny, with human rights groups saying conditions have deteriorated because of the pandemic. In the UAE, most attractive because of the economic opportunities it offers, there is no social safety net for foreigners, who make up about 90 per cent of the population. A laundry service worker from Cameroon told Reuters he had not been paid in months and was now selling fruit and vegetables on the street earning 30 to 40 dirhams a day ($8-$11)...Sectors like construction and retail were struggling even before the crisis, which exacerbated hardship for workers already exposed to payment delays. Mohammed Mubarak has not been paid for around 11 months for security work at a Dubai theme park. "The company doesn't know when they'll be able to pay us, and we are suffering," the Ghanaian said.