Lack of migration policy causes human rights violation in Gulf: Raj Bardouille

Published Date:   Friday, Dec 13, 2013

Delivering a talk through Skype on “Migration Experiences of Temporary Migrants in the Gulf Council Cooperation (GCC) States: The Case of the Kingdom of Bahrain and Dubai (in the United Arab Emirates), Dr. Raj Bardouille, Scholar at Migration and Development Researcher, Centre for Refugee Studies, York University, Toronto, Canada, on 23 November 2013 organised by GRFDT, mentioned that the situation of international migrants are pathetic in Gulf countries due to the lack of proper policy measures. Her presentation was based on the experiences and knowledge gained during the course of field work and information collected through unstructured interviews among the temporary migrants working in unskilled/semiskilled sectors during 2008 in Bahrain and Dubai. The major objective of the talk was to find out how migrants feel by focussing the migration experiences of temporary migrants. The migration trend towards Gulf with increasing number of people for better economic opportunities was highlighted in the backdrop of higher unemployment and lesser income from the  home countries. The kafala system of recruitment in the GCC countries which ties the migrants to the kafeel or sponsor was directly linked to the nature of employment, salary paid, working and living conditions and other benefits or violations of human rights meted out to those migrants.

A brief background of  three players in this migration pattern was discussed with the first being the ‘migrants’ who are generally male with young population living in poor standard labour camps leaving families back home and increasing female participation late 1990’s .The second being the ‘origin country’ where the higher rate of unemployment and lesser wages which pushes the migrants out towards Gulf for better opportunities and the third being the ‘host country’ (here GCC) where the population in general were low with less participation of Nationals workforce in the labour market. Therefore the GCC countries encourages expatriates or temporary migrants to fill in their labour market with their skills, labour force, wealth, revenue, tax etc.

With the lack of migration policy in international migration, the author highlighted the competition of migrant workforce with other Asian countries. The future labour force in the GCC are expected to be the children of labours working there. In this context, the Filipinos were placed in better jobs as receptionists, in maintenance, Pakistanis, Nepalese and Bangladeshis in cheaper wages as gardeners, cleaners, helpers in hotels while Indian workers are mainly engaged with construction sectors. Temporary migrants are well aware of the temporary nature of their work and residence in the Gulf countries, they come with specific goals and expectations and once fulfilled return back to home country or to other GCC country.

At the end the speaker raised several questions about the future aspect of labour migration to GCC with emphasising on the effect of migration on neighbours and society, with the indigenisation of labour markets in GCC. What in future if there arises a bifurcation in salaries and skills between the nationals and the migrants, what is the impact on the children and female members of the migrants family because of the migration? These thoughtful queries would raise further research about the migrants in the Gulf and the impact of migration on migrants themselves, the host country and the country of origin.

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