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For migrant workers in the MENA, flattening the curve of inequality is urgent

Open Democracy, MENA, 29 June 2020 - The challenges faced by migrant workers in the MENA region are particularly acute. Since the beginning of the crisis, news of Egyptian workers stranded in Kuwait rioting for not being able to return home, Ethiopian domestic workers fired by their employees and left in front of the Ethiopian embassy in Beirut, or Indians sleeping in the basement car park as they are unable to pay for their rent in Dubai, have been equally disturbing as the news of the victims of the virus itself.

The MENA region is one of the main destination for migrant workers. According to the Population Division of the United Nations Department of Economic Affairs (UNDESA), there were 35 million international migrants in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, and Jordan and Lebanon in 2019, of whom 31 per cent were women. The majority of these workers are from Asia (especially from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Indonesia and the Philippines) and Africa (Egypt and Ethiopia in particular).

In Lebanon, over 250,000 migrant women are employed by private households to carry out household tasks. Jordan has between 440,000 to 540,000 unskilled and semi-skilled migrant workers employed mainly in domestic work, agriculture and construction. The six countries that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) - Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar – host the majority of migrant workers living in the Arab region. Foreign workers make up 90% of the population of the United Arab Emirates, 60% in Kuwait, 50% in Bahrain, and 33% in Saudi Arabia.

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Source: https://www.opendemocracy.net/en/pandemic-border/migrant-workers-mena-flattening-curve-inequality-urgent/

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