From 2019 to 2021, Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member states saw the highest number of Indian worker deaths. In answer to a query in Parliament, the Government disclosed on Friday that the most significant number of fatalities of Indian labourers during this time occurred in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Numerous businesses had ceased operations, causing harsh living conditions. However, how many of these employees perished due to poor working conditions is unknown. In Saudi Arabia, the number of fatalities among labourers reached 2,353 in 2019.
In the UAE, 2,454 Indian labourers perished in 2020. The number increased from 1,751 in 2019 to 2,710 in 2021.
In 2021, 352 Indian labourers were killed in Bahrain, compared to 303 in 2020 and 211 in 2019. 1,201 Indian employees died in Kuwait in 2021. This followed the deaths of 1,279 Native Americans in 2020 and 707 Native Americans in 2019. In 2021, 913 Indian labourers perished in Oman, the most significant number in the previous three years.
Last May, the international Migrant-Rights.org organisation published a shocking testimony of a journalist who was deported from the UAE because he reported on the deaths of migrant workers, noting that he “is living in a struggle with memories of untold stories.”
The journalist, Yassin Kandi, who is of Ugandan origin and lives in the United States of America, revealed how the UAE authorities expelled him from the country because he wrote a book dealing with articles on the mistreatment of migrants workers and left them as victims of death.
Migrant-Rights.org, which specialises in defending migrant workers, also revealed that migrant workers commit suicide in the UAE to escape their conditions.
According to the organisation, 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 work contracts, and a lack of social support affect workers’ quality of life in the UAE.
Experts fear 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.
In light of the ban imposed on independent associations representing them, foreign workers in the UAE face widespread rights violations and racial discrimination in various fields.
The International Labor Organization also accused the UAE of violating workers’ rights, failing to provide an appropriate work environment, and an inhumane practice against workers’ rights in the UAE, knowing that they constitute 80% of the country’s population. These violations increased during the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic.
In the same context, a recent study revealed that the Emirate of Dubai is the most stressful city in the world.
Bloomberg agency quoted a study conducted by the Casey data analysis company, which included 49 countries and 51 regions in the United States that Dubai, the economic capital of the UAE, is the most stressful city in the world at work, followed by Hong Kong and then the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur.
“Recent years have tested the support structures for employees worldwide,” said Bernard Meehl, Casey’s CEO.
“Ongoing pressure, the turmoil caused by the pandemic, and the war on Ukraine have contributed to global instability that will continue to be felt for years to come,” he added.
The study considers factors including the intensity of work and the vitality of the city, in addition to high-quality health care, affordable cost of living, rights and well-being of residents, and vacation time.