Migrant-Rights.org, an organization specializing in defending migrant workers, revealed that migrant workers commit suicide in the UAE to escape their conditions.
According to the organization, at least 579 Nepalese immigrants committed suicide in the UAE and the rest of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries during the past 11 years due to physical and psychological pressures.
Data obtained from the Foreign Employment Council showed that deaths due to suicide constitute 11% of the total 5,511 deaths in the region.
The UAE alone recorded 138 suicides among migrant workers, and it is believed that dozens of other cases were not detected.
Financial burdens, poor working conditions, isolation, disappointed expectations due to non-compliance with employment contracts, and a lack of social support affect workers’ quality of life in the Gulf.
Experts fear that this situation will not improve soon, in light of the few or almost non-existent efforts to improve workers’ physical and mental health conditions in the Emirates.
Professor Saroj Prasad Uja, Head of Mental Health and Psychiatry at Tribhuvan University, says that suicides or those related to mental health problems among Nepalese migrant workers have become more common in recent years.
“I have seen hundreds of migrant workers and their spouses who have insomnia, anxiety, and severe depression, and if these cases are not given the right care in time, these symptoms of mental illness can lead these people to commit suicide,” he added.
The six Gulf states were home to 1.1 million Nepalese workers in the 2017/2018 fiscal year when 67 Nepalese workers committed suicide.
Interviews with the families of eight workers who committed suicide confirmed that the workers were under the burden of debt during their time abroad.
They also stated that they received wages lower than those agreed upon before they left their home countries or were not satisfied with their work contracts. They worked long hours to earn more money despite the harsh working conditions.
In general, the data indicate that suicide deaths have become more frequent than in the Gulf countries in recent years.
During the past 11 years, suicide was the third leading cause of death among Nepalese workers in Saudi Arabia, after natural deaths and road accidents.
In the UAE, Oman and Kuwait, suicide is the second leading cause of death (after cardiac arrest, causes of natural death and heart attacks, respectively).