600,000 Migrant Workers “Trapped” in the Middle East

(Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

(Getty Images – for illustrative purposes only)

By Massoud A. Derhally

As many as 600,000 migrants workers are tricked and trapped into forced labour across the Middle East, according to the United Nations International Labour Organisation.

“Labour migration in this part of the world is unique in terms of its sheer scale and its exponential growth in recent years,” says Beate Andrees.

“The challenge is how to put in place safeguards in both origin and destination countries to prevent the exploitation and abuse of these workers.”

ILO’s “Tricked and Trapped: Human Trafficking in the Middle East” 150-page report released in April, interviewed over two years 650 people (including government officials, worker and employer representatives, migrant community leaders, non-governmental organisation officials and migrant workers) in Jordan Lebanon, Kuwait and the UAE.

The report looks at how workers are “tricked and trapped” into forced labour and sexual exploitation, and the constraints that prevent them from leaving.

About 94 percent of workers In Qatar are migrants, while in Saudi Arabia it’s 50 percent, according to ILO. It is also estimated that there are over 2 million migrant domestic workers in the Middle East

In the Middle East, the ILO calculated that 3.4 in every 1,000 of the region’s inhabitants are compelled to work against their free choice.

The ILO estimates 20.9 million people across the world are victims of forced labour, of which 68 percent are victims of forced labour exploitation in the private economy, while 22 percent are victims of forced sexual exploitation and the remaining 10 per cent are forced to work by the state.

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