Issue Brief on “COVID 19 and Repatriation of Pakistani Workers”

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It is hard to overestimate the role of migrant labor in the Gulf, where jobs in construction, sanitation and transportation are primarily undertaken by millions of workers, mainly from South Asian countries. In the wake of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, millions of migrant workers in the Gulf countries have been dismissed. In March, the government of Saudi Arabia announced a relief package which would partly compensate for worker salaries. However, this relief only applied to Saudi citizens. In the UAE, a new law was passed which authorized businesses to slash wages momentarily or even permanently for non-citizen personnel. Hence, as a result of COVID-19, migrants in the Gulf States have been forced into lockdown in overcrowded, unhygienic environments with no income and powerless to return home owing to travel limitations.

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