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‘I am starving’: the migrant workers abandoned by Dubai employers

The Guardian, United Arab Emirates, 3 September 2020 - assan doesn’t know if he will eat today. The 30-year-old Pakistani has lived in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE), for over a decade, employed as a construction worker. But when the Covid-19 pandemic took hold, he lost his job. Without his salary he cannot afford to live in the UAE. Nor can he afford to fly home.

“The suffering is too much. We hardly have any food and there’s no support. Since we don’t have any money, we can’t travel from here either,” he says. “How are we going to buy the ticket?”

Hassan and 98 of his colleagues have been left to fend for themselves in a dusty labour camp on the outskirts of the city with little communication from their former employer, a local construction and contracting company. The three-storey U-shaped building with yellow concrete walls contains dozens of shabby dormitories, each packed with metal bunk beds. Social distancing is not possible in such cramped living quarters. The complex is fenced off and guarded by security. A large communal kitchen which was a hive of activity six months ago now lies dormant. There is no food to cook.

The double economic blow of the Covid-19 outbreak and oil price crash has led to hundreds of thousands of job losses in the UAE, where almost 90% of the workforce are migrants. Many out-of-work migrants have been left stranded in the country, which does not afford a social safety net to foreigners.

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Source: https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/sep/03/i-am-starving-the-migrant-workers-abandoned-by-dubai-employers

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