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94 Nepalis working as 'Bonded Labourers' for Libyan Construction Company

On May 13, 2010

Ninety-four Nepali construction workers in Libya have appealed to the Nepali government to rescue them immediately, saying that they are being forced to work in inhumane conditions, according to this article, which appeared on the front page of yesterday's Republica (English language daily in Nepal).

"We have been informed that the workers have been working as bonded labor and have been deprived of their basic salary for as many as nine months," a senior official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs told Republica.

The Nepali Embassy in Cairo carried out a study on the situation of the workers and found that they were in need of 'immediate rescue'. note: Libya is emerging as a destination for Asian migrant labourers thanks to a construction boom triggered by oil wealth and recent economic liberalization. As job prospects have dwindled in countries such as the UAE and Bahrain since the financial crisis caused real estate projects to be put on hold, Libya is coming to be seen by the governments of labour-sending countries as an attractive alternative destination for migrant labourers. For one example, see this article, 'Libya to hire thousands of Bangladeshis'). However, North African country has an extremely poor record on human rights, so it remains to be seen how migrant workers will fare in Libya by comparison to the Gulf States. This story, plus this recent case of Bangladeshi workers being stranded without pay or food, suggests that there is a high chance of the problems faced by migrant workers in the GCC countries being replicated in Libya on a large scale.

In a similar case, the Nepali Embassy in Riyadh had to intervene to rescue 22 Nepalis who were working as 'bonded labourers' in a soap factory in Sudan.