The suffering of Sri Lankan migrant workers in Saudi Arabia detention centers

Author : nicolegarabag6
Publish Date : 2021-05-12 10:18:18

The suffering of Sri Lankan migrant workers in Saudi Arabia detention centers

Thushari was 16 years old when her mother went from her Sri Lankan home to Saudi Arabia to work as a domestic worker.This happened in March 2019.

She hasn't seen her mother, Sunethra, 43, since then.

There are nearly 500,000 Sri Lankan migrants in Saudi Arabia, many of whom are women who work as domestic helpers.
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But about seven or eight months after she arrived in the royal state, Sunethra quit her job as a domestic worker.

She is currently in a detention center, along with 40 other Sri Lankan women. Their plight was recently published by Amnesty International.

"My mother had difficult times with her employer. She was not even paid. She was not given enough food," Thushari told the BBC by telephone.

"One day he was locked in the bathroom and left there all day, without a glass of water."

Sunethra decided to leave her employer, and according to Saudi law, she automatically became an illegal immigrant.

Domestic workers from abroad must be sponsored by their employers to live in Saudi Arabia legally.

Shortly after escaping, Sunethra was arrested by the police and put in a detention center, and she has been waiting there to be sent back to Sri Lanka ever since.

Children and pregnant women
Thushari was horrified by what he had heard about the center, and imagined his mother's suffering.

"There are 40 women in one room but there is not enough room for even ten of them. Sometimes they fight with each other for places.

"Small children, pregnant women and elderly women are among them."

According to Amnesty International, 41 Sri Lankan women, along with several young children aged eight to 18 months, are being held at a deportation center in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

"Three women were carrying young children, and one woman was found to be in dire need of medical care. None of the women was told of the charges against them, nor given legal assistance to understand the duration or reasons for their detention," the organization said in a new statement. recently.

Less information
Kose Mohiddeen Anzar, a Sri Lankan migrant to Saudi Arabia, said he was the one who contacted Amnesty International after his requests were repeatedly ignored by the authorities.

"There were many other nationals in the camp, but the governments of other countries acted, so the women were sent home. Only Sri Lanka delayed them," he told the BBC.

Anzar volunteered to visit the detention center several times, but he was not allowed to meet the prisoners in person.

"They don't know anything about the outside world," he said.

"It is not in the Saudi government's interest to keep them here. Due to the lack of action by the Sri Lankan government, they are still here."

Coronavirus restrictions
The husband of one of the detained women told the BBC that authorities in Sri Lanka had repeatedly used coronavirus restrictions as a pretext for delaying repatriation.

Jeyaprakash, a Tamil from India, said he had visited the regional office as well as the president's office to ask for help so that his wife could return home.

"My wife has nothing to eat and not enough water. She can't even sit properly because she has hemorrhoids," he said.
Although there was no immediate response from the Saudi authorities, Sri Lankan Manpower Minister Nimal Siripala De Silva told media that they had held discussions with the Saudi authorities and would take immediate action for repatriation.

However, he did not mention the time.

'Most vulnerable workers'
When Sunethra went to Saudi Arabia to work, she left her mother to care for her three daughters.

Her husband, who has kidney problems, does not have a permanent job and is unable to do heavy work.

But while Sunethra was in the detention center for more than a year, her mother died on February 11.

His family now hopes he can at least attend a religious ceremony to mark the three months since the death of his grandmother, an important event in Buddhist culture.
Amnesty International said Sunethra and other detained women highlighted the situation of domestic workers as one of the most vulnerable groups of migrant workers in the Gulf countries, including in Saudi Arabia.

"The recent labor reforms in Saudi Arabia do not include domestic workers, who are ber 

meaning they still cannot leave the country without permission from their employers, which makes them even more vulnerable to rights violations, "the organization said in a press statement.

Since the death of her grandmother, Thushari, the eldest daughter, has taken on the role of 'mother' and guardian to her two younger sisters.
As a result, he couldn't find a job.

"I used to take a cadet class after school. I wanted to join the navy," he told the BBC, "but now I can't leave the house."

The names of the women and their family members have been changed in this article to protect their identities.

Category : news

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