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Indian Workers Stranded and Starving in Saudi Arabia

August 4, 2016
Plain English Version
Indian workers in a labor camp waiting for supplies.

Indian workers in a labor camp waiting for supplies.

Migrants go where there are jobs. For many years they went to Saudi Arabia. It is a rich country. It is building hotels, office buildings, roads, and airports. It wants to attract industry and tourists.

Foreign firms manage the construction projects. These companies recruit thousands to do the work. The companies make more profit by hiring lower-paid workers. Lower-paid workers will not be Saudis. Rather, they will come from other countries.

Saudi Arabia has the largest economy in the Middle East. It is home to thousands of migrant workers. Most of the workers come from India. Many others come from Pakistan, Bangladesh, and the Philippines.

Most of these migrant workers are in blue-collar jobs. They work in construction and factories.

The sharp drop in oil revenue has hit Saudi Arabia hard. Companies are laying off thousands of workers.

There are about 2,500 Indian workers starving in labor camps in Saudi Arabia. They have no money. They have no money because their employers stopped paying them.

One man’s story:

“When I save and send money back every month, my family is able to eat and educate my younger brothers. Last year, our company began delaying the salaries. For the last seven months, there has been no salary at all. The company closed down its offices a month ago. It said the government had stopped all payments. Ten days ago, the cafeteria stopped giving us food, too.”

Many thousands of Indian workers want to return home. Only their employers can sign the papers that allow them to return to India. Many of the companies that issued the papers have gone out of business.

Exit papers must come from the companies. Then India can give the workers visas to return home.

This has become a big issue in India. The Indian government is working to find ways to evacuate the workers.

Source: The Washington Post August 1, 2016

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