Migrants fall into hardship in Iraq

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May 13 2007

A horrifying article in this week's International Herald Tribune:

As waves of Iraqis flee their conflicted country, other desperate civilians are going in.

Migrant workers from some of the world's poorest countries are being lured by the prospect of inflated salaries in construction or security companies. Some enter despite explicit bans in their own governments; others think they are going to work in safe countries.

But instead of the conventional jobs that were promised, traffickers are hustling them into hardship conditions with little pay and no mobility, according to groups that work with migrants and small numbers of migrants themselves who have managed to ask for help. Some of them are being sent home to such places as Sri Lanka, Ethiopia and the Philippines.

[...]

he Sri Lankans' story speaks of the dangers the workers are exposed to. All 30 of them, in their 20s and 30s, were seeking work as carpenters on construction sites in the United Arab Emirates.

But, having paid about $2,000 to a legal employment agency in Colombo, the men fell victim to traffickers on route, the International Organization of Migration says. Their agency, Arabian Express, denies any wrongdoing and says the men never showed up when its representative went to meet them in Dubai, according to press reports.

Houver said, "It is unclear who is at fault, but the whole phenomenon started while they were transiting in the Gulf."

Read the full article here.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East