United Nations Officials Visit the Migrant Workers Shelter
The UN in Kuwait has been working on strengthening national capacity on the protection of victims of trafficking and the prosecution of traffickers.
Kuwait is host country to a vast number of foreign workers, where 70 % of its population is comprised of expatriates from countries in the Arab region, South and South-East Asia and Africa, who are predominately employed in the construction sector and service industry. The single largest expatriate community in Kuwait is comprised of Nationals from India, whereas Egyptian nationals are the second largest and is the largest foreign Arab population. Temporary labour mobility is the most predominant form of migration in Kuwait and the GCC, especially from countries in South Asia.
The United Nations in the State of Kuwait with its mandated agencies at the forefront have been working in close partnership with the Government of Kuwait on strengthening the capacity of relevant national counterparts and ministries tasked with the protection of victims of trafficking and the prosecution of traffickers. Several awareness raising campaigns on the topic of labor exploitation, human trafficking and the rights of domestic workers were organized throughout the past few years, whereby substantive technical support and policy advise have been and continue to be provided to support the government’s efforts to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic challenges, though comprehensive solutions, that are in accordance with international laws and standards.
The new Government-run Shelter for Female Foreign Workers in Kuwait was established in 2014 provides shelter and helps irregular female workers as they seek to regulate their work modality in Kuwait or safely return to their countries of origin. With its oversight on the Shelter, PAM has initiated a number of partnerships and collaborative efforts with UN agencies, and IOM in particular on repatriation, capacity development of shelter staff, and facilitating generous in-kind donations to the female beneficiaries.
Dr Tarek Elsheikh, Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General and Resident Coordinator to the Stat of Kuwait said: “to mark the International Day and 16 days of activism 25 November through 10 December leading to Human Rights Day, The United Nations in Kuwait in close coordination with the public Authority of Manpower has delightfully arranged a visit to the shelter. We are happy to see the progress Kuwait has made in addressing issues of foreign workers, including domestic workers notably women, in relation to non-payment of wage, visa trading or other forms of exploitation and to ensure foreign workers’ rights continue to be adequately protected. We particularly appreciate the amnesty programme launched by MOI during the COVID19 crisis response plan, including granting a new one-month deadline for workers in irregular situations to avail themselves to the amnesty and leave the country without paying fines, with the possibility to return under proper legal terms. We encourage the government to benefit from more amnesty plans, especially due to the huge effect the coronavirus pandemic has had on the socio-economic and financial situation of many citizens and expats. PAM’s role remains key in ensuring eliminating such negative trends has been continuous and notable, notwithstanding the efficient oversight of the Shelter facility.””
On his part, Dr. Mubarak Al-Azmi - Deputy Director General for Manpower Protection, expressed that the Public Authority for Manpower is harnessing all its material and human capabilities to ensure full protection for all workers, especially domestic workers.
Where PAM provides all legal, health and psychosocial support services to the workers present at the shelter center. The Authority succeeded in facing all the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and was able to continue to provide all its services to workers and ensure that they are not exposed to any form of exploitation or undermine their rights during the period. The Authority continues its cooperation with all international organizations to develop its services and raise the capabilities of workers in its various sectors in order to reach the best application of international standards in the field of human rights.
From his side, Mazen Aboulhosn, IOM Chief of Mission, explained that “IOM works everywhere to prevent gender-based violence, which is often exacerbated by crises. Kuwait has been and continues to be a major donor in response to humanitarian crisis around the world. This includes programs dealing with protection of migrants including GBV. As we are committed to ensuring survivors have the right to dignified care and support in any country, this shelter can be an example on how to ensure a continuum care for female beneficiaries. Thus, we encourage PAM to continue providing this support and sustain it in the COVID time. The Global Compact on Migration, endorsed by Kuwait and 150 countries around the world, addresses both gender inequalities and GBV and seeks to reduce women vulnerabilities by increasing their access to labor; mitigating, responding to and preventing GBV is a collective endeavor and we count on our partners such as PAM to address it. And for that, we are always on standby to support in many ways.”
Joining the visit to the shelter, Ms Hideko Hadzialic spoke of how "World-wide, the UN family is working together with national counterparts in supporting women in shelters to heal and get back on their feet. By visiting courageous ladies in the shelter managed by the Public Authority for Manpower today, we received a sense of hope and positive spirit – the true strengths coming from those ladies who came to this country in support of their families and children thousands of miles apart."
The UN especially appreciates the amnesty period launched by the Ministry of Interior as a response plan to the Covid-19 pandemic, including granting a new period of time for workers in irregular situations to take advantage of the amnesty and leave the country without paying fines, with the possibility of returning under the appropriate legal conditions. We encourage the government to provide wider options and solutions for more amnesty plans, especially due to the huge impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the social, economic and financial situation of many citizens and expatriates. We would like to note the importance and efficacy of the great human role of the Public Authority for Manpower, which is a basic and main element in ensuring the elimination of all negative aspects in the continuous and remarkable recruitment of labor, and we appreciate its effective supervision of the facilities of the center for migrant workers. What we have seen during our cooperation with the authority and during his visit by the representative of the United Nations Secretary-General, the Resident Coordinator, and the accompanying UN delegation.