A Petition has been filed before the Supreme Court of India seeking for directions for the return of Indians working and living in Gulf countries due to problems being faced by them as a result of lack of jobs arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Filed by Advocate Jose Abraham on behalf of migrant welfare society named Pravasi Legal Cell, the plea submits that "around 9 million Indians are at present employed in countries in the Gulf, a vast majority of who are involved in low-skilled labour, who are going through challenging times and are struggling to meet even their basic needs in dire jobless situation arising out of the COVID pandemic".
It has also been submitted that in light of the rising cases of Coronavirus in the Gulf, the number and nationalities of the infected migrant workers is yet to be declared. However, Qatar has confirmed that a disproportionate majority of the people diagnosed with COVID-19 are migrant workers.
It is also to be noted that Qatar's largest labour camp for migrant workers has become a virtual prison and is in total lockdown after hundreds of construction workers became infected with Covid-19.
The plea states that "this trend is dangerous for Indian migrant workers, who in the wake of the lockdown in several Gulf states have been quarantined in Labour accommodation camps which are notoriously overcrowded, and lack in adequate water and sanitation meaning that workers are inevitably less able to protect themselves from the virus".
The proximity of the workers to one another in cramped camps has also been cited as a proper due to inability to practice any type of social distancing.
The plea goes on to assert that even the workers who have been tested positive for COVID-19 are being denied treatment due to shortage of beds and unaffordable nature of the treatment.
Additionally, reports have surfaced that migrant workers in Saudi Arabia are required to work while their Saudi counterparts can avail paid quarantine leave. Therefore, there is a "flagrant violation of migrant workers' rights in the Gulf states".
Also, in most of the cases, passports and other documents of the poor migrant workers have been confiscated by their employers/sponsors and they have been rendered stateless.
In light of the above, the follow prayers are sought by the Petitioner;
i. To make appropriate arrangement to rescue and bring the Indian migrants stranded in Gulf countries who are living in vulnerable condition in labour accommodations.
ii. To take appropriate measure to ensure that the migrant workers experiencing symptoms have access to timely testing and medical facilities as absence of same would result in high risk of transmission owing to the cramped conditions in which they reside.
iii. To take appropriate steps to ensure adequate food, medicines, quarantine and emergency service facilities.
iv. To make appropriate arrangement for free medical consultation and counselling of the migrant labourers through online/ videoconferencing facility with the doctors in India.
v. To come out with appropriate scheme to ensure financial support for the families of the migrant labourers rendered jobless due to COVID19.
Read the Petition Here