Migrant workers in Qatar and Saudi Arabia suffer extreme abuse and human rights violations

The plight of migrant workers in Middle Eastern countries is a topic of great concern and was a point of great discussion for the recent International Migrants Day 2013.

Qatar and Saudi Arabia have been highlighted as major culprits in the exploitation and ill-treatment of migrant workers. The vast majority of migrant workers in the Middle East come from Africa, South Asia and South East Asia. Middle Eastern countries such as Qatar are recruiting migrant workers at remarkable rates to support its construction boom. Migrant workers are lured to such countries in the hope of attaining a better life for themselves and families back home. 

However once they arrive in these countries many of them are subjected to various forms of abuses such as exploitation, beatings, rape, torture and execution. Some are subjected to such inhumane treatment to exploit them financially while others face the same fate because they are non-Arabs / non-nationals.

Children are often direct victims of these abuses and those that are not directly affected, definitely suffer indirectly and are left to cope with the psychological impact, some become orphans as their parents are killed.
Once in these countries the migrant workers find themselves at the mercy of unscrupulous individuals and companies and are forced into situations of forced labour. 

Their passports are held by their employers who often withhold salaries for months or sometimes do not even bother to pay the workers.  The migrant workers are housed in dormitories which are very small, cramped, very unhygienic, and are forced to work extremely long hours in temperatures of 45 degree Celsius.   They are trapped as they have to obtain permission from their employers to leave Qatar and employers often refuse to grant them permission.  They are thus left isolated in a foreign country without the means to get home.

See Amnesty International Press Release here.
See ill-treatment of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia here

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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