Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Lebanese housewife jailed for abusing maid

BEIRUT — A Lebanese woman was sentenced to one month in jail for mistreating her Sri Lankan housemaid, court papers showed on Friday, a rare happening in a country where rights groups regularly denounce the ill-treatment of foreign domestic helpers.

The 41-year-old housewife was sentenced to jail and fined 6,600 dollars for "having struck" and "seriously mistreated" her home helper in the northern city of Byblos , according to court records seen by AFP.

She was also banned from employing domestic staff for up to five years.

The victim suffered blows and ill treatment between December 2004 and May 2007 and was also forbidden to leave the home, the papers showed.

But she escaped and was able to reach the Sri Lankan embassy in Beirut, which referred her to Caritas Migrant Centre, which had her medically examined and helped her draw up a legal case.

The medical tests showed "wounds and contusions throughout the body, some recent and other going back several months," according to court papers.

A lawyer from Caritas, which aids migrant workers in Lebanon , helped bring her case before the court.

About 200,000 expatriate workers are legally and illegally employed in Lebanon , the majority of them women from Sri Lanka , Ethiopia or the Philippines .

Rights associations defending immigrant workers decry that these labourers are not entitled to weekly holidays, that their passports are confiscated and that they sometimes are not paid.

In December 2009, a Lebanese woman was sentenced to 15 days in prison for striking her domestic worker.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

100 parents reunite with female migrants

One hundred parents and other family members of female migrants living in Daegu, North Gyeongsang Province, came to Korea on Friday for a reunion with their daughters or sisters.

They were invited to the city by Daegu Women Migrants Human Rights Center with sponsorship from a local philanthropist, the city and the provincial governments, Dongsan Hospital and Korean Air.

One hundred parents and other family members of 59 women migrants living in Daegu visit an amusement park in the city Saturday. They were invited to the city by Daegu Women Migrants Human Rights Center. Yonhap News

The 59 foreign wives met their family members coming from 10 countries, including Thailand, Uzbekistan, Mongolia and Vietnam.

The center took care of all expenses for their visit to Korea, including round-trip tickets, visa and passport issuance, transportation and hotels in Daegu.


Qatar assures good relief for migrant workers

A Qatari human rights official made a welcome call in Colombo this week on the protection of migrant workers: “Come to us (affected workers); you’ll get more relief than by going to the Sri Lankan Embassy,” he said.
Speaking to a group of government, trade union, recruiter and media personnel on Tuesday, Fahad Ahmad Almohammadi, Deputy Head of the Legal Department and Head of the Labour Rights Unit at the Qatar National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) said 90 per cent of the cases taken up by the NHRC have been won by the workers against employers.
During a visit to Colombo Mr. Fahad said “Even if troubled workers go to their embassy, those authorities will refer it to the Labour Department or the NHRC.” He was part of a team visiting Colombo to discuss migrant worker issues.
Thousands of Sri Lankan workers, mostly males, are based in Doha, capital of Qatar which is the fastest growing and among the most prosperous economies in the Middle East. Recent official data shows Qatar is recruiting more workers (per capita) than any other West Asian country.
More than a million Sri Lankans work in the Middle East with many facing disputes over employment contracts, wages, long working hours, and abuse and sexual harassment in the case of domestic workers.
Under a bilateral agreement between Sri Lanka and Qatar, endorsed by that Government, Sri Lankan workers are protected. In this context the Qatari official gave more assurances to workers at this week’s discussions in Colombo.
Mr. Fahad said under his country’s Constitution, every worker is equal before the law. “That means any foreign worker has the same rights as a local worker,” he said, adding that the NHRC is an independent body which provides a three-monthly and annual report to the Government.
He said Qatar is studying ways of imposing a rule where both agents (in Sri Lanka and in Qatar) are responsible for a worker for the full term (two to three years) of their contract instead of just three months now.
“One of the biggest problems is this short-term responsibility. After three months, workers become no one’s responsibility, according to current practicWe are aware of agents telling workers they could work in a place for three months and run away to another job,” he said. The biggest problems, he said, are poor contracts which are altered.
“Often workers complain to us that they have not received their salary for a year. This is not right,” he said. Mr. Fahad said the main responsibility lies with the sending country with ‘many issues faced by us because problems are not ironed out at the sending end (particularly in poor contracts and not enough information given to the worker on their rights) ’.
Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLFEB) Additional General Manager L.K. Ruhunage told the meeting that in future all advertisements placed by agents offering jobs must carry the approved payment rates required by migrant workers with the telephone number of a bureau hotline.
The visiting team included Boyko Atanasov – ACIL Country Program Director - Qatar, Yemen and UAE, and Ellen Sana - Executive Director, Center for Migrant Advocacy- Philippines.
sunday times

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rogue overseas job agents netted

Daily News
Four rogue overseas job agents and one foreign educational consultant, operating without authorities' approval were arrested by Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) Sleuths.
The arrests had taken place in Thambuttegama, Aranayaka, Galgamuwa and Kurunegala when fully equipped offices were established. Sleuths had taken into custody passports, visas, medical certificates, job orders and documents from the locations, SLBFE sources said. According to the sources, the person arrested in Kurunegala, a registered agent of the SLBFE had been taken to task for engaging in a foreign educational consultancy business illegally.
In addition to recruiting migrant labourers the agent had also engaged in a lucrative business of sending prospective students to foreign destinations for a fee, using the same location. He had allegedly promoted educational opportunities in Australia , New Zealand , India and European destinations.
According to SLBFE regulations using a registered location by a manpower recruiter for other purposes than foreign employment prohibited. The SLBFE yesterday also voiced concern on the growing number of rogue foreign education providers and advised the public to be vigilant.
The SLBFE was given wide powers including permission to arrest without warrant any errant job agent or individual.
The arrested are to be produced in Courts

More jobs for Lankans in Qatar

Daily News
There will be US $ 130 billion worth projects in the next ten years in Qatar and this will create significant employment opportunities there for Lankans.
Sri Lanka could fulfil of the need for labour in these projects with a strong legal framework to overcome current problems faced by the migrant workers.
It is important to safeguard the dignity and respect of the migrant workers which would lead to socio economic development of the country, Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment Additional General Manager L.K. Ruhunage said.
Qatar is in the lead in providing employment opportunities and has the highest number of migrant workers from Sri Lanka . Over 44,000 migrant workers were employed in Qatar last year accounting for 18 percent of the total outflow.
The Q1 of 2010 recorded 15,000 workers to Qatar accounting for 22 percent of the total outflow. The majority of the increase in total outflow consisted of male workers. This increasing trend in more job opportunities will continue in Qatar and it will be a healthy job market. A significant development in migrant worker related activities is the bi-lateral labour agreements entered with the Qatar Government.
These agreements are beneficial for the migrant workers which include model contracts and expenses related matters. These labour agreements protect the rights of migrant workers and will soon be enforced, Ruhunage said.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Horror in the Middle East: Abused Sri Lankan Women Speak Out

Housemaids Kuwait Women
Padma and Chandrangani, two young Sri Lankan women, both went to Kuwait to work as maids with the hope of earning enough money to support their families. Both faced horrific physical and mental abuse at the hands of their employers, and were treated by their Sri Lankan recruitment brokers as though they were mere commodities.
Today’s Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka) carried this feature telling their stories.

Due to a fragile post-war economy, thousands of Sri Lankan women travel to the Middle East each year to find work as housemaids or cleaners in the hope that they will be able to send money back home.

There are roughly 1 million Sri Lankans employed overseas – roughly one person in every 19. Out of these an estimated 600,000 are employed as domestic workers.

Unfortunately Padma’s horrific story (below) is not an isolated case. According to the article, hundreds of workers return home each year with unpaid salaries and physical injuries. Some are caught up in human trafficking or prostitution. Some do not come home at all – suicides and ‘accidents’ claim the lives of many migrant workers in the Gulf.

Padma (name changed) left for Kuwait in February 2009 and was sent immediately to her employer’s home. There were twelve people in the family despite initially being told by the agency in Panadura that there were only five in that house.

Padhma, alone, was forced to cook heavy meals for the family and their friends and was always left without food.

Her Madam would purposely supervise her in the kitchen so that Padhma could not sneak a bite to ease her starving stomach. Padhma worked for over a month on little food and started searching for a way out when the beatings finally began. One day, as Padhma was left without food for nearly two days, she sneaked into the kitchen in desperation to search for something to eat. Her madam who caught her searching the kitchen cupboards, pulled her by the hair and lit the fire on the stove and held her face very close, threatening to burn her. Padhma screamed, begging her for forgiveness. However Padhma’s screams and tears were of no avail as her madam burnt part of Padhma’s beautiful face and then bashed her head to the wall several times till she finally collapsed.

Padhma regained consciousness an hour later only to be lying on the kitchen floor in pain. Her madam had walked in a few minutes later and screamed at Padhma to get up and prepare lunch or face a beating again.

Padhma worked in silence for days, enduring the severe beatings she received. Her several attempts to escape also failed and each time she got caught, she received severe blows.

However one day, Padhma, after gathering her belongings, escaped when the front gate was left opened and fled to the agency which had brought her to her employer’s home.

Luckily she had studied the roads in the six months she was employed at her ‘madam’s house’ when she went marketing with her daily. After days of torture, Padhma was glad to see Sri Lankans at the agency and urged them for medication and help. She begged them not to send her back.
Instead of helping her, the men at the agency, who were all Sri Lankans had only kicked Padhma in the stomach and told her she would be sold to a brothel if she did not go back to work. “They screamed at me and told me embarrassing things which cannot be mentioned. I was shocked to see Sri Lankans behaving in such a manner,” Padhma cried.

After being tortured in the agency for two weeks, Padhma finally returned back home,after almost seven months, after her brother sent Rs.65,000 cash to the agency. She returned home, devastated and in pain.

Chandrangani’s story is equally horrific; she was beaten and starved by her Kuwaiti employer, and was then subjected to yet more abuse the Sri Lankan recruitment brokers who had found her the job.

Q1 earnings by migrant workers $ 890m

Sri Lanka has earned a sum of 890 million US dollars foreign exchange in the first quarter of 2010 through remittances of migrant workers in Middle East countries.
The percentage of migrant workers has also increased by 22 per cent, Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau Chairman, Kingsley Ranawaka said.
In the first quarter of 2009, 54,990 workers left the country on foreign employments.
The number increased to 67,136 in the first quarter of 2010.
Sri Lanka received a larger number of employment opportunities from Qatar , Kuwait , Jordan and United Arabic Emirates in 2010 than in 2009.
According to Ranawaka the percentage of employment opportunities provided are Qatar-72 per cent, Kuwait-32 per cent, Jordan-28 per cent and United Arabic Emirates-11 per cent.
Talks with Bahrain and Malaysian authorities to obtain a larger number of employment opportunities have also succeeded, he said.
Meanwhile Sri Lanka received 2600 employment opportunities from South Korea .
Sri Lanka recorded foreign exchange earnings of 890 million US dollars in the first quarter of this year as against 780 US dollars in 2009.
The percentage of foreign exchange earnings have increased by 14 per cent in 2010.
The Bureau intends increasing foreign exchange earnings to 4 billion US dollars through remittances by migrant workers by the end of this year, Ranawaka added.
Sunday Observer
by Mohammed NAALIR

Friday, June 18, 2010

Recruiters mount campaign to hire Thai domestic helpers


RIYADH: A campaign to hire domestic workers from Thailand instead of Indonesia has gathered steam in the wake of the steady increase in recruitment costs for Indonesian manpower.
While slamming the “unreasonable and unjustifiable” hike in recruitment fees for workers from Indonesia, especially commissions for agents, a number of Saudi recruiters have called on the authorities to begin procedures to hire domestic workers from Thailand, Al-Riyadh newspaper reported.
“Indonesian agents are engaged in types of blackmailing and have been putting pressure on Saudi recruitment offices by increasing their commission to $800 per visa this month from the $200 that was charged six months ago. We are the victims of the greed of these unscrupulous agents,” said one Saudi recruiter. His views were echoed by many others.
There are about 1.5 million Indonesians currently working in the Kingdom. Recruitment costs for Indonesian workers shot up from SR2,800 to SR7,500 over the past three years.
Abdullah Al-Hamoud, former chairman of the Saudi Committee for Recruitment, noted that the Kingdom is the largest labor market for Indonesian domestic servants and that the steep hike in recruitment costs are not in Jakarta’s interests.
“These domestic workers bring home more than one-third of Indonesia’s foreign remittance annually. Indonesian agents are charging high commissions. They raised it to $700 last month and again to $800 this month. There had been a hike in commission on a monthly basis,” he said, noting that the commission was only $200 six months ago.
According to Al-Hamoud, these agents are engaged in bringing housemaids from remote Indonesian regions and villages to recruitment offices that are mainly based in Jakarta. “They act as middlemen between families of maids and recruitment offices. The Indonesian Ministry of Manpower needs to act swiftly to rein in these unscrupulous and greedy agents, whose practices may prove detrimental to Indonesia’s interests in the long run,” he said.
It is estimated that there more than 1,000 agents working for around 300 recruitment offices in Indonesia.
Jamal Al-Mufawaz is closely involved in the Kingdom’s recruitment industry. He said the authorities need to take steps to start hiring domestic laborers from Thailand instead of Indonesia.
“There are about 20 million Muslims in Thailand; they are mostly concentrated in the southern provinces. Recruiting from Thailand would be economically feasible and help Saudi sponsors save the large amounts of money that is now being taken by Indonesian agents,” he said, adding that the Kingdom used to recruit from Thailand 20 years ago.
Saudi authorities had instructed local recruitment firms two months ago to stop hiring domestic staff from Indonesia in the wake of the huge increase in costs. This came after local recruitment firms came to a deadlock in negotiations with Indonesian recruiters over wages. In the meantime, labor recruiters have been seeking alternative sources of labor from other southeast Asian countries, such as Vietnam and Cambodia.
Abdul Aziz Al-Roqabi, a Saudi diplomat based in Jakarta, recently urged the Saudi authorities to stop issuing labor visas for Indonesia until the country’s recruitment offices comply with agreements signed with their Saudi counterparts. Last month, the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce and Industry organized a meeting, which was attended by more than 40 Saudi investors and recruitment office owners. The meeting also called for a halt to importing Indonesian labor.

Employers of domestics asked to deposit airfare with ‘Interior’

Sponsors of maids to pay deportation expenses
The Ministry of Interior is obligating a sponsor who wants to hire a maid from overseas to pay to the Immigration Fund money equivalent to one-way ticket to the country of origin of the maid, reports Al-Shahed daily quoting reliable sources.
The daily added this is to ensure that if the maid is reported absconding or is arrested for committing a crime the government will deport the maid at the expense of the sponsor.
The sources said the decision was based on a study prepared by the General Immigration Department which accused the sponsors of failing to provide ticket money for the maid when she is arrested and as a result the maid remains in detention for a long period of time and as a result she is subjected to many negativities.

The sources said a similar decision has been adopted by a number of Gulf states and has proved to be effective.
The sources indicated the ministry has taken into account the fact that the domestic helper may be working for someone when she is reported absconding by the original sponsor. In such cases the money will be returned to the sponsor.

Labor disputes signal end of China as cheap labor source

Rising labor disputes in China are prompting Korean manufacturers to reconsider their strategies that capitalize on cheap labor and industrial peace.
Following a string of suicides at its plant in China, the Taiwanese electronics maker Foxconn recently doubled salaries of the lowest paid workers.

A supplier of Honda Motor Co. has suffered production stoppages due to workers striking for higher pay, and continues to negotiate to stop further disruptions. Workers at a Toyota Motor Corp. supplier are also waging a partial walkout.

The escalating demand for higher compensation is posing a new challenge to multinational firms.

“China’s days of low wages are over,” Lee Pyeong-bok, an advisor to the state-run Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency, told a forum with domestic businesses.

“China’s one-family, one-child policy has caused labor shortages and as a new generation of workers are entering the labor market, their awareness of labor rights is heightening,” he said.

Employees at a Honda supply plant in Foshan gather near the factory gate during a strike in south China’s Guangdong province.
AP-Yonhap News

According to a U.S. Census Bureau analysis, the number of 15 to 24 year olds joining the work force will drop by 29 percent over the next 10 years.

As the Chinese government switches from an export-oriented economic development model to one focusing on domestic demand, a number of policies to induce wage increases have been drawn up, he noted.

Korean firms operating in China are grappling with rising labor disputes.

Most recently, workers at the car parts maker Sungwoo Hitech’s plant in China staged a strike on May 28 causing production to halt at Hyundai Motor Co.’s plant in Beijing for three days.

Sungwoo Hitech is a Busan-based firm that specializes in metal structural components such as bumpers and door frames.

Sungwoo Hitech, Hyundai and other suppliers whose operations were halted due to the strike were resumed on May 30 after the company agreed to raise wages by 15 percent.

In addition to workers demanding higher pay, some regional governments in China are raising minimum wages.

Experts expect the dissipation of China’s cheap labor force to pick up pace.

KOTRA warned that Korean firms looking to operate in China must come up with new strategies. It suggested automation of production processes, moving Chinese facilities inland or to Southeast Asia, where wages are lower, and investing in products that are less labor intensive as possible solutions.  

By Choi He-suk (
THE Korea Herald

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rise in foreign employment

Suraj A. Bandara

The Sri Lanka Foreign Employment Bureau (SLFEB) said departures for foreign employment have increased by 22 percent compared to the same period in 2009 while Sri Lankan migrant workers' remittances have recorded a significant growth having earned US $890 million in the first quarter of this year.

Accordingly, a total of 67,136 workers had left for foreign employment from January to March this year. Last year only 54,990 foreign employment seekers had departed during the corresponding period.

The current year has shown a growing demand for jobs in the Middle-East. There was a 72 percent increase in migrant workers leaving for the Kingdom of Qatar and a 32 percent increase for Kuwait . Departures for Jordan and the United Arab Emirates have increased by 28 percent and 11 percent respectively.

It is reported that there is a huge competition among Sri Lankans seeking foreign employment in South Korea . During this year, around 2,600 migrant workers have left for Korean employment.

The SLFEB expects more opportunities from Korea for Lankans before the end of this year.

Indian Embassy to launch online attestation

Khaleej Times Online > NATION
T. Ramavarman

The Indian Embassy in the UAE is planning to introduce web-based attestation of job contracts of workers in August in collaboration with the Ministry of Labour (MoL) in the UAE and the Protector of Emigrants (PoE) in India.

“In this system, the model contracts produced by the companies in this country will be entered into the computer at the embassy when they come there for permission to recruit workers from India. This computer will be networked with the systems in the MoL in the UAE as well as those in the offices of the PoE, Indian

Ambassador M. K. Lokesh told a meeting at the India Social Centre (ISC) here on Tuesday evening.

“The advantage of this system will be that it will be possible for the MoL and the PoE to instantly ensure that there is no incompatibility between the working conditions offered by the companies at the time of submitting applications for recruitment of workers at the embassy and at the time of actual recruitment. This will not only prevent duping of the workers with false promises, but will also help us to develop a database on the performance of the companies recruiting workers from India,” he clarified.

The software for this is ready and has been tested by the embassy and the MoL. The MoL has shown great interest in the project. Now it must be integrated with the PoE offices in India before the formal launch in August, the ambassador said.

He also said the embassy is planning to launch the Indian Workers Resource Centre (IWRC) before the end of the year. The embassy has received expression of interest from several groups to run the IWRC, and is in the process of short-listing them.

The IWRC will have a 24-hour helpline and will offer support to the Indian workers, including legal counselling and medical care. To be located in Dubai, the IWRC will provide support to the workers all over the UAE.

Exchange of prisoners
He said an agreement is being worked out between the UAE and India to exchange sentenced prisoners.

Under the proposed agreement, the Indians who are undergoing imprisonment in the UAE jails could be shifted to the jails in India, and the UAE nationals sentenced in India could be shifted to the jails in the emirates.

There would be some conditions for such exchanges and all cases would not be considered. The agreement is ready and is waiting for signing during some high-level visits from India, the ambassador added.

The embassy had been able to collect nearly Dh3.2 million so far through the service charges it had introduced for its outsourced services. The amount was being utilised for various welfare activities of Indian workers in the UAE.

The embassy is willing to provide tickets to those Indians who are in the UAE jails after their sentence period if they are not able to meet the travel expenditures.

The embassy will be resuming the Open House programmes for Indian workers very soon, he said.

Medical survey shows Filipino workers are healthier

By Joe Avancena

Filipino workers in Saudi Arabia appear to be healthier than other expatriates, according to a medical and dental survey conducted in Dammam last week by the Mohammad Al-Dossary Hospital (MDH) in cooperation with the Philippine Embassy in Riyadh and the Overseas Filipino Workers Congress in the Eastern Province (OFW-EP), an accredited community partner of the embassy.
The result of the MDH medical and dental survey shows that of the 359 Filipino workers who underwent a series of medical tests, 284 were found to be healthy.
At least 75 Filipino workers were found to be having medical problems, which included high blood pressure, high sugar, high cholesterol, high/low thyroid stimulating hormones, low blood hemoglobin level (HB).
The first 250 workers were given free dental and eye examinations. Women, who were 35 years of age and above, were given free thyroid test.
Philippine Ambassador Antonio Villamor, who inaugurated the free medical outreach event together with labor attaché David Des T. Dicang and MDH director general Abdul Fettah Ennayal, expressed satisfaction on the result of the medical survey.
“One of the embassy’s focuses and concerns is to achieve a good state of health for our overseas workers, something our foreign missions have been emphasizing. We are happy that our workers in Saudi Arabia are comparably healthier than other expatriate groups, which shows that we are succeeding in our drive of reminding our workers to always observe a healthy lifestyle,” Villamor said.
He lauded the MDH for conducting free medical check-ups.
Ennayal, the MDH director general, said that it was one of the social responsibilities of his hospital to conduct free medical check up for members of the expatriate communities.
“MDH has been known for being active in rendering services to the expatriate communities, irrespective of their races and social and religious beliefs. We are happy to be of help in making people aware of their medical condition so as to prevent long term treatment,” Ennayel said.
Ms. Mary Jane P. Tupas, director of nursing of MDH and also president of the OFW Congress in the Eastern Province, and Rajkumar Nair, manager of the office of the director general, were credited for successfully organizing the free medical camp. – SG

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

KSA creating more job opportunities for Saudis and expatriates

GENEVA – Abdul Wahid Al-Hameed, the Saudi Deputy Minister of Labor, told G20 ministers of labor Monday night that the Kingdom held a “significant economic position in the world” and that it’s handling of the global financial crisis was “creating jobs for its own citizens and those of other countries”.
“The Kingdom recruited 1,500,000 workers from abroad last year,” Al-Hameed told the ministers’ meeting at the International Labor Conference currently in progress in Geneva.
“Their money transfers have contributed in strengthening the economies of their home countries.”
Remittances from Saudi Arabia’s estimated nine million mostly Asian foreign workers are soaring as the Kingdom recruits more of them for its massive development plan.
At $18.4 billion in 2008 and 15.0 billion in the first eight months of 2009, earnings sent abroad equalled four percent of Saudi gross domestic product, according to government data.
Saudi Arabia was the world’s third largest source of foreign worker remittances in 2008 after the United States and Russia – far larger economies – according to the World Bank.
Al-Hameed told ministers that the G20’s focus needed to extend beyond their own individual nations and concentrate on Third World countries suffering from the effects of the economic crisis.
As an active member of the G20, the Kingdom, Al-Hameed said, regarded as significant recommendations produced by the group’s labor ministers in Washington last April, and noted that Saudi Arabia had discussed them with GCC ministers of labor in a meeting on the sidelines of the current International Labor Conference. - SPA/SG

Saudi Gazette

Emirati paper: UAE “unfairly” targeted for migrant rights abuses

A recent editorial in Gulf News, the UAE’s most popular English-language newspaper, lavishly praised the UAE’s treatment of migrant workers, ignoring the egregious human rights violation migrant workers are subjected to in the Emirates.
The editorial highlighted the International Labor Organization’s praise of the UAE’s Wage Protection System (WPS), stating that it is a model to be followed by other countries. The WPS has indeed helped to insure that documented migrant workers get their wages on time in the UAE, although cases of laborers going unpaid are still common.
The editorial goes on to say:
For years, the UAE was unfairly the target of media campaigns in the West with regard to the conditions under which low-skilled labourers work. It is refreshing to see the country receive credit for its efforts to protect the rights of these labourers.
The UAE has been appropriately targeted for the violation of migrant workers’ human rights by the media and human rights groups, including The UAE offers little protection to migrant workers, as it ties them to local sponsors making them completely dependent on them for their livelihood and vulnerable to exploitation. The UAE forbids unionizing and strikes, and does not offer migrant workers minimum wage. The UAE doesn’t even bother enforcing its own laws when it comes to passport confiscations and altering of work contracts, which workers are subjected to quite often. Working conditions of construction workers are extremely poor and workers are often exploited. Domestic workers are not included under the realm of the country’s labor laws, they are not given a weekly rest day, their work hours are practically unlimited and they are not paid for overtime.
The editorial ends with this infuriating statement:
As UAE officials have often maintained, what is being done is not something we have had to do, but it is in line with the county’s social and humanitarian values.
The UAE is subjected to pressure from the U.S., sending countries of workers, international labor organization and international and local human rights organizations to improve its protection of migrant workers, which is extremely poor. The UAE is not based on “social and humanitarian values” but on exploitation of slave labor from the Third World. The UAE is a country where expatriates must be deported if they contract an infection disease, blue-collar workers are placed in segregated and overly populated labor camps, and where Emiratis serve one year in jail for burning a Pakistani man to death, while workers get the same sentence for iron scrap theft. The Gulf News’ perception of Emirati exceptionalism is based on anything but facts.

Migrant Rights

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Rights Group Urges ILO to Bring Out Guidelines for Domestic Workers

Migrants Forum Asia has called on the ILO to set specific guide lines for domestic workers.
The majority of Asia’s 60 million migrant workers are women, and many of them work as housemaids and nannies. MFA believes that existing international conventions do not adequately protect their rights.
“A definitive, coherent, and comprehensive instrument is needed to clearly establish minimum standards and rights for all domestic workers as workers,” Migrants Forum Asia executive committee chair Ellene Sana said in a speech on June 3 to delegates to the ongoing 99th International Labor Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
Sana lamented that domestic work has not been fully and widely recognized as work; domestic workers have not been covered by labor laws that protect and promote their rights, welfare, and dignity.
“Despite the significant contributions of domestic workers to their households and employers’ families, to communities and countries (both of origin and destination), and to the industries and economies in which they selflessly invest their time, skills, sweat and tears, these domestic workers have yet to enjoy the recognition
they have so long deserved,” she said

Lankan sentenced to Death

Daily Mirror

The Court of Appeal in Dubai has quashed a life term and awarded death to a man convicted for premeditated murder. The Presiding Judge, Eissa Sharif, gave the 24-year-old Sri Lankan resident capital punishment for killing the husband of his lover.

The Court of First Instance had on April 5 pronounced him guilty of killing the victim, also Sri Lankan, and sentenced him to life term, and deportation thereafter. The defendant, who had an affair with the victim's wife, is believed to have planned the murder as the husband was an 'obstacle' to his love life.

He killed the husband on the night of February 26 last year by stabbing him several times in many parts of the body. The deceased's wife was referred to the Court of Misdemeanours on the charge of having illicit sex.

A police lieutenant told the prosecutors that he saw the victim lying in a pool of blood that night in an alley in Raffa. The police quizzed the wife who was still there at the time the cops arrived. "At first, she claimed that an African man had stabbed her husband while they were walking home," the lieutenant said.

But, the woman soon changed her statement and said that the defendant, with whom she had an affair and who worked at the same place as she, had stabbed her husband, the reason being jealousy. The police nabbed the defendant later in the house of a woman compatriot in the Springs community.

A taxi driver, who happened to be at the crime scene that night said during the investigation that while he was on duty picking up and dropping people in Al Jaffiliya area, he saw two men fighting and a woman screaming.

"One of them stabbed the other several times until he fell down. The other man kept on stabbing him in the chest before fleeing the scene," the driver testified.

Rizana's parents appeal

Daiy Mirror

The parents of Sri Lankan maid Rizana Nafeek who is accused of murdering a Saudi newborn in 2005 have appealed to the Human Rights Commission (HRC) to take suitable action for their daughter’s release since she has been languishing in jail for the past five years.

The appeal for clemency was handed to Bandar Al-Aiban, president of the governmental Human Rights Commission through a proxy in Riyadh .

Rizana Nafeek’s case is in appeal after she was found guilty and sentenced to death. She claims the baby choked during bottle feeding and that her earlier confession is invalid because it was taken while she was in police custody and had no legal representation.

She said language barrier was another factor at that time that makes the confession invalid. The parents maintain that she murdered the infant in vengeance on the 7th day of her job.

A three-member high court in Dawadmi, near Riyadh, handed down the death sentence on June 16, 2007 and on July 15 the judgment was appealed by the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) through the Sri Lankan Embassy in Riyadh.

In the letter, the woman’s parents, Mohammed Rafeek and Farina Nazik, insist their daughter is not a murderer.

An HRC source said the organization would not take any action in a pending court case, but that it has been closely monitoring the situation and it would take necessary action following the final verdict — the date of which is not known and depends on the current proceedings.

The case has been bouncing between courts since it first reached the high court in Riyadh in March 2008. The last hearing of Nafeek’s case took place on Dec. 21. (Arab News)

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

SLBFE special training must for ME bound

SLBFE special training must for ME bound males
The special training given by the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) to housemaids seeking employment abroad will be made compulsory to males too seeking employment in the Middle East from July 15 this year, the SLBFE said in a press release yesterday.

However this training would be only confined to Middle East jobs, the release said.

The training given on a concept of SLBFE Chairman Kingsley Ranawaka would include an awareness about the laws and regulations of the host country, its money transactions and social life as well as solutions to workplace problems.

All males learning for Middle East jobs except those seeking higher performance and technical sector jobs should await themselves of this training from July 15, the release said.

Migrant workers to get free vocational training

By Lee Hyo-sik
Staff reporter

Migrant workers here will be able to receive free vocational training from state-designated institutes nationwide. The program is part of government efforts to improve the job skills of foreign workers mostly employed by small-scale labor-intense manufacturing firms.

The Human Resources Development Service of Korea (HRDSK) said Tuesday that it will receive applications from migrant workers with E-9 visas and select 5,000 for a state-sponsored job training program starting from June through November this year.

On behalf of HRDSK, 67 job training centers across the country will offer laborers two types of vocational programs ㅡ basic and advanced. Trainees will gain practical skills in the fields of manufacturing, construction, agricultural and fisheries under the basic training scheme, while learning auto repair, welding and other expertise through the advanced program.

``On top of language problems, migrant workers, mostly from Southeast Asian countries, lack necessary job skills and lag far behind Korean employees in labor productivity," HRDSK manager Kim Dong-il said. "To help them improve their productivity and boost the bottom line of the nation's many small businesses, we decided to offer vocational training free of charge.''

He also said the vocational program will help employers retain foreign workers as the latter will help to achieve greater job satisfaction.

Kim said the government has allocated 900 million won for training 5,000 migrant workers over the next five months, adding programs will be offered on Sundays as they usually work from Monday through Saturday. ``Each trainee will take classes for four hours, once a week for three months.''

For Korean employers and migrant workers interested in the state-funded vocational training program, call HRDSK at 02-3271-9443 for more information.

Spain's Muslim immigrants well integrated

Study: 84% of polled Muslims said faced no obstacles to practicing their religion in Spain.

MADRID - The vast majority of Muslim immigrants to Spain are well integrated in the country even if 27 percent of them are currently unemployed, according to a government study published Wednesday.
Fully 70 percent said they felt "good or very good" in Spain while 81 percent said they felt they were "well adapted to Spanish life and customs", the investigation carried out by the Metroscopia social studies institute found.
Of the 2,000 Muslim immigrants polled, 84 said they faced no obstacles to practicing their religion in Spain while 94 percent said they opposed the use of any of violence to defend religious beliefs.
The institute has carried out the study for the government each year since 2006 and the most findings did not differ significantly from the results in other years.
Speaking at a news conference to unveil the results of the study, Interior Minister Alfredo Perez Rubalcaba said "the recession seems to not to have affected the opinions expressed in this annual survey."
Spain plunged into its longest and deepest recession at the end of 2008 as the global credit crisis hastened a correction which was already underway in its key property sector.
The downturn caused Spain's overall unemployment rate to soar to 19 percent in February, nearly twice the 10 percent rate of the entire 16-nation euro zone.
The unemployment rate is higher amongst immigrants as they are primarily employed in areas such as construction and the services sector which have been especially hard hit by the recession.
Spain has around 767,000 Muslim immigrants out of a total population of 46 million people. Most Muslim immigrants are from Morocco.

Amnesty, Italy clash over handling of migrants

Human rights group says Italy puts migrants' lives in danger by sending them back to Libya.

ROME - Italy's government and Amnesty International clashed on Thursday over a report by the human rights group saying the country put migrants' lives in danger by sending them back to Libya.
"Italy continued to deport people to places where they were at risk of human rights abuses," Amnesty said in its report on human rights around the world in 2009.
"Italian authorities took the unprecedented decision to transfer migrants and asylum-seekers rescued at sea to Tripoli, Libya," where they are not protected by the 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention, Amnesty said.
Foreign Minister Franco Frattini replied saying the report was "unworthy of the work of the men and women of our police corps, who save lives every day, the complete opposite of what Amnesty is saying."
Amnesty said asylum seekers to Italy dropped to 17,000 in 2009 from 31,000 in 2008.
"The Italian and Maltese governments disagreed over their obligations to carry out rescue operations at sea, leaving migrants stranded for days without water and food and posing a serious risk to their lives," Amnesty said.
In its 2009 report on Italy, the Council of Europe's anti-torture committee warned the return of migrants to Libya was a breach of Rome's obligations under the European Convention on Human Rights.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

MoI braces to crackdown on illegal immigrants (WAM)

Abu Dhabi -The campaign (Sahem) launched recently by the UAE Interior Ministry to track down violators of the entry and residency law aimed to raise awareness among individuals in the community about the phenomenon and not to hesitate to report violators to competent authorities, said Major General Nasser bin Al Awadhi Al Menhali, acting assistant undersecretary of the Ministry of Interior for Naturalisation, Residency and Ports Affairs.

He warned in statement those who deal with violators and infiltrators, announcing that the labour inspection teams of the Department of Violators Follow UP and Foreigners will continue its work day long to hunt the illegal immigrants to bring them to books.

‘The ministry will not spare any effort to crackdown on those who enter into the country and stay illegally’, Menahli said, calling on Emiratis and expatriates to cooperate with the Sahem campaign to report about infiltrators, violators and areas they reside through Sahem free toll 80080 round the clock.

Menhali noted that the phenomenon could subside in case all community members cooperate with the ministry of Interior.

He referred to the higher leadership instructions to take necessary measures to eliminate the phenomenon or those who conceal or harbour violators.

The entry and residency law punishes those who employ or harbour infiltrators with two month imprisonment and fine of AED100, 000. It punishes firm owner who employs absconding foreigner not on his sponsorship or leaves him to work with another illegally, with AED50, 000.

Missions in KSA to issue e-passports for Filipinos

By Joe Avancena

RIYADH – The Philippine Embassy here and its consulate in Jeddah will start issuing electronic passports (e-passports) for Filipino workers from this month, the embassy announced Monday.
Machine-readable and manual passports will be replaced with the electronic ones as soon as biometric machines are installed in the missions, said the embassy announcement.
E-passports will cost SR240 as against SR200 for machine-readable passports. The replacement of a lost e-passport will cost SR600.
Physical presence of applicants will be necessary for collecting the required data for e-passports, the processing of which has been outsourced to Oberthur Technologies.
E-passport is a highly secure document, which can not be tampered with. It features microchip technology which allows information stored in a chip to be verified with the information displayed on the passport.
In August 2009, the first e-passport embedded with computer recognized biometrics and tamper-proof safety features was delivered by Oberthur Technologies.
More than eight million Filipino workers are employed overseas and need the most advanced travel document, like e-passports. – SG

Saudi gazette

Monday, June 7, 2010

Migrant workers continue to commit suicide at an alarming rate in Kuwait

Housemaids Kuwait Suicide

Over the month of May, 17 migrant workers have attempted or committed suicide in Kuwait according to a survey of newspaper reports from the country; two maids were injured while trying to escape their sponsor’s house. This is an escalation of a trend we’ve been monitoring for quite some time on During April, 12 migrant workers attempted or succeeded in ending their lives in Kuwait. During March and the end of February, there were 13 reported cases of suicide and suicide attempt by migrants in the emirate. And during November of 2008 we’ve covered another 13 cases of suicide and attempted suicides by expatriate workers. Workers are often driven to suicide by harsh living and working conditions, abuse and non-payment of wages.

On May 5, an Ethiopian maid suffered severe injuries and fractures after jumping off the second floor from her sponsor’s house in the Abdullah Al-Mubarak area. On the next day, an unidentified security guard (a job generally performed by migrants) at an unknown university attempted suicide by slitting his right wrist. The man was taken to Amiri hospital for medical care. On May 8, a 23-year-old Ethiopian maid jumped out of her sponsor’s house on the second floor in Abu Hulaifa in an attempt to kill herself. The maid sustained several injuries and was taken to the hospital.

On May 14 three suicide attempts by migrant workers were recorded: an Egyptian men attempted to commit suicide by swallowing an unknown chemical. He was admitted to the Mubarak hospital in critical condition. Meanwhile, policemen in the Mubarak al-Kabeer area managed to stop a maid from committing suicide with a knife. On the same day a 25-year-old Filipino worker jumped off the second floor in her sponsor’s house in Fahaheel. The maid asked her sponsor to let her leave her job because she was mistreated by them and received a better job offer. However, the sponsor refused telling the maid that she knew that she’ll be working as a maid, and she should do her job without complaining. The night after the argument the maid left a suicide note and attempted to kill herself.

On May 19, a Nepalese maid (34) ended her life by hanging in her sponsor’s house in Umm Al-Haiman. On the same day, a 36-year-old domestic worker of unknown nationality attempted to kill herself by overdosing on drugs in her sponsor’s house in Rehab. On the next day, May 20, an 34-year-old Indian man committed suicide by hanging in his home in Old Khaitan. On the same day, an Indian woman (36) attempted suicide by setting herself on fire in Khaitan. On the next day, the Arab Times reported that a Sri-Lankan maid in her 40s suffered severe injuries and fractures after she jumped out of her employer’s home in an attempt to abscond. On the same day, a 36-year-old Indian man attempted to end his life by setting himself on fire in Sulaibiya. Still on that day an Asian maid was taken to the Jahra hospital after attempting suicide by setting herself on fire. Not a day later, on May 22, two maids ended their lives in Kuwait. A 30-year-old Indian maid hanged herself to death in her sponsor’s house in Adan, and a Nepalese housemaid committed suicide by hanging in her employer’s residence in Oyoun, Jahra. The next day, May 23, a Sri-Lankan woman (33) attempted suicide by slitting her wrists in her employer’s home in Mubarak al-Kabeer area.

On May 26, an Indian housemaid in her 30s suffered fractured after jumping from her sponsor’s house in Sabah Al-Salem. According to the newspaper report, she was attempting to abscond. On May 30, a Nepalese maid (24) slit her left wrist in her sponsor’s house in Rehab and was taken to the hospital. An Ethiopian man in his 30s hanged himself to death in a farm in Kabad on the same day.

As we’ve noted, domestic workers, the most vulnerable of migrant workers, are excluded from the protection of Kuwait labor laws. Kuwaiti papers, like most regional papers, mention suicides by workers in just a few sentences, never bothering to find out the names of the victims. The reports are hidden in the least-read pages and often hint that the cause of suicide was mental illness of the victim and not abuse she or he suffered at the hand of their sponsor

A Sri Lankan student critically injured and another in custody due to Israel attack

(Lanka-e-News, June 7, 2010, 9.05 AM) Owing to an attack launched by Israel Commandos on a ship carrying medicines to the Palestinians in the Gaza strip and, the taking into custody of 800 individuals, two Sri Lankans too have fallen victims, reports say.

The Sri Lankans are a Law student in Australia, Ahamed Naleeb, 21 years old and his sister 18 year old Thaleem Mariyam, a medical student in Kuwait.

Mariyam had escaped unhurt in the brutal attack of the Israeli commandos. She is now held in the refugee camp of the Israelis. But her brother’s hand and leg have sustained serious gunshot injuries and is now receiving treatment in an Istanbul Hospital.

The grandfather of the victims, Haseem Ibathullah from Beruwala , Sri Lanka has stated , following the shooting of the student , no medical treatment had been given to him for 12 hours. Because of this savage attack by the Israelis on the ship which was carrying aid to the Palestinians in the Gaza strip, 19 persons have died and over 100 have been injured.

Many countries have roundly condemned this attack. Israel says, this attack was in self defense.


Saudia offices to charge SR15 service fee for domestic tickets


By Abdul Aziz Ghazawi
JEDDAH – Saudi Arabian Airlines is to charge a SR15 service fee for domestic tickets issued from Saudia offices and travel agencies.
The move comes into effect from June 15. Tickets obtained through electronic means such as ATMs and the Internet remain charge-free, an official from the airline said.
The official said the move was prompted by the company’s wish to “restructure, diversify and expand” its sales methods by increasing electronic services.
“Saudia has made available direct ticket purchasing online and from ATMs and canceled the fees it previously paid to travel agencies for issuing domestic flight tickets,” the official said. “This will help eliminate some malpractices related to ticket issuance just to obtain the fee, which affected the availability of bookings.” – Okaz/SG

Ministry tells industry to employ more women


By Hazim Al-Mutairi
RIYADH – Abdul Wahid Al-Humaid, Deputy Minister of Labor, has called on the industrial sector to open up more job opportunities for Saudi women, “particularly in administrative positions”.
Al-Humaid was speaking at the first meeting of the “Saudi Industrial Sector Success Stories” at Riyadh’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry on Saturday, and noted that the rate of female unemployment had reached 28.4 percent, “some of those with university qualifications”.
The deputy minister called on businessmen at the gathering to put into effect government decisions concerning the creation of more job opportunities for women in the private sector by providing suitable working environments and heeding the customs of society.
“There are many positions available in industry suitable for women, especially in administrative and technical areas,” Al-Humaid said. “And there are many families that depend on their daughters to provide for them, so the industrial sector should give the issue its full attention.”
According to the deputy minister, the unemployment rate in the Kingdom has risen to 10.5 percent, a situation that “requires the obstacles to Saudization to be tackled”.
“We need to work to replace the foreign workforce with the national workforce, according to need,” he said. “We hope that in this respect the ministry’s plan will reduce unemployment and raise the productivity of Saudi workers.”
Al-Humaid added that the ministry did not wish the Saudi worker to be a “burden on the industrial sector” but instead a “profitable investment in human resources”.
“Saudi staff can bring relative advantages to the national economy,” he said.
Ahmed Al-Rajihi, head of the Chamber’s Industrial Committee, spoke of the success of Saudization in the nations’ industry.
“Saudis have become a significant element in various factories for their skills which have made them superior to foreign workers,” Al-Rajihi said. “We are on the right path, as young persons have started turning to the industrial sector since the reasons for their staying away have been addressed.” – Okaz/SG

Kuwait foreign assets soar to 277 billion dollars

Foreign assets of Kuwait swells at the end of fiscal up from 238 billion dollars year earlier.

KUWAIT CITY - The foreign assets of OPEC member Kuwait swelled to 277 billion dollars at the end of the fiscal year to March 31, up from 238 billion dollars a year earlier, the Al-Jarida newspaper said Friday.
The assets are held in two state-owned funds, the Reserve Fund for Future Generations (RFFG) whose assets grew to 220 billion dollars on March 31 up on 196 billion dollars the previous year.
The second fund is the General State Reserve with 57 billion dollars at the end of the last fiscal year up from 42 billion dollars, Al-Jarida said.
Finance Minister Mustafa al-Shamali gave a briefing on Kuwait's financial postion to parliament at a secret session on Thursday and declined to reveal any figures to reporters.
Kuwaiti foreign investments, which were estimated to have soared to a record 300 billion dollars in 2008, were severely affected by the global economic crisis.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said in its 2009 World Investment Report that Kuwait sovereign wealth fund assets shrank by 94 billion dollars last year due to the economic meltdown.
But KIA categorically denied the report without providing any figures.
By law, 10 percent of Kuwait's total income is transferred into the RFFG every year regardless of whether the budget is in surplus or deficit.
The Gulf state has posted a budget surplus in each of the past 11 fiscal years, amounting to around 140 billion dollars.
In the last fiscal year, the emirate posted a preliminary budget surplus of 28.2 billion dollars.
Kuwait says it sits on 10 percent of global crude reserves and pumps around 2.3 million barrels per day. It has a citizen population of 1.1 million, besides 2.35 million foreign residents.

Kuwait foreign assets soar to 277 billion dollars

Foreign assets of Kuwait swells at the end of fiscal up from 238 billion dollars year earlier.

KUWAIT CITY - The foreign assets of OPEC member Kuwait swelled to 277 billion dollars at the end of the fiscal year to March 31, up from 238 billion dollars a year earlier, the Al-Jarida newspaper said Friday.
The assets are held in two state-owned funds, the Reserve Fund for Future Generations (RFFG) whose assets grew to 220 billion dollars on March 31 up on 196 billion dollars the previous year.
The second fund is the General State Reserve with 57 billion dollars at the end of the last fiscal year up from 42 billion dollars, Al-Jarida said.
Finance Minister Mustafa al-Shamali gave a briefing on Kuwait's financial postion to parliament at a secret session on Thursday and declined to reveal any figures to reporters.
Kuwaiti foreign investments, which were estimated to have soared to a record 300 billion dollars in 2008, were severely affected by the global economic crisis.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) said in its 2009 World Investment Report that Kuwait sovereign wealth fund assets shrank by 94 billion dollars last year due to the economic meltdown.
But KIA categorically denied the report without providing any figures.
By law, 10 percent of Kuwait's total income is transferred into the RFFG every year regardless of whether the budget is in surplus or deficit.
The Gulf state has posted a budget surplus in each of the past 11 fiscal years, amounting to around 140 billion dollars.
In the last fiscal year, the emirate posted a preliminary budget surplus of 28.2 billion dollars.
Kuwait says it sits on 10 percent of global crude reserves and pumps around 2.3 million barrels per day. It has a citizen population of 1.1 million, besides 2.35 million foreign residents.

MidEast, Asia failing to protect domestic workers

HRW: reforms undertaken by governments fall far short of minimum protections needed.

KUALA LUMPUR - Middle East and Asian nations, which draw millions of foreign domestic workers, have failed to take action to tackle widespread abuse of the vulnerable women despite recent improvements. Human Rights Watch said.
"The reforms undertaken by Middle Eastern and Asian governments fall far short of the minimum protections needed to tackle abuses against migrant domestic workers," the US-based group said in a report launched ahead of International Labour Day on May 1.
The report focused on Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Singapore. HRW said that several nations had made improvements but far more must be done.
"In general, reforms have been slow, incremental, and hard-fought," said Nisha Varia, the group's women's rights researcher.
"Jordan deserves credit for including domestic work in their labour law, but enforcement remains a big concern. Singapore has prosecuted physical abuse against domestic workers vigorously, but fails to guarantee them even one day off a week."
Saudi Arabia alone absorbs 1.5 million foreign domestic workers, and there are 196,000 in the tiny city-state of Singapore.
The workers come from Indonesia, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and other countries in Asia and Africa, and their earnings contribute billions to their home countries, often making up a good chunk of those economies.
HRW said the workers are subjected to violence, forced isolation in private homes, excessive working hours with no rest, and unpaid wages for months of hard labour.
"Reforms often encounter stiff resistance both from employers used to having a domestic worker on call around the clock, and labour brokers profiting handsomely off a poorly regulated system," Varia said.
"Governments should make protecting these vulnerable workers a priority."
HRW called on governments to bring domestic workers under the protective umbrella of labour laws, reform repressive immigration laws that contribute to abuse, and ensure police and courts respond to abuse cases.

Young Arabs want democracy and more jobs

Survey finds majority of Arabs see 'living in a democratic country' as their first priority.

DUBAI - Young Arabs surveyed in nine Middle Eastern countries said they want greater democracy, affordable housing and more job prospects, according to results released on Sunday.
Between 85 and 99 percent of the 2,000 Arabs said that "living in a democratic country" was their first priority, in a survey conducted by the Dubai-based ASDA'A Burson-Marsteller public relations firm.
The firm questioned 18 to 24 year-olds in the six Arab countries of the Gulf as well as in Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon last October, said Karen Hughes, the firm's vice chair and a former US under secretary.
"More than two-thirds of respondents were very concerned about the rising cost of living, while the shortage of affordable housing was their second biggest worry, followed by unemployment," she told a news conference.
"Increased public participation was seen as either 'very important' or 'somewhat important' by the vast majority of young people across all the countries surveyed.
The tally varied from 85 percent in Oman to 99 percent in Kuwait, the PR firm said.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Over 100 Sri Lankan expatriate workers to be brought back home

ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka .

May 29, Colombo : The Sri Lankan Embassy in Kuwait will send home 107 Sri Lankan expatriate workers under a special programme.

Most of these expatriates are housemaids who have faced issues in the workplace.

The Sri Lankan Ambassador in Kuwait , Sajith Disanayaka, says half of these workers were marooned in Kuwait after losing jobs following salary issues. The employers had lodged complaints against some of them over charges such as thefts. In such instances, the workers are deported with no prospects of returning to the country.

All these workers are sent directly to Sri Lanka , the Ambassador says. There are 125 more Sri Lankan expatriate workers with similar experiences and they are also being sent home soon. Meanwhile, their cases are being investigated.