Romanian president Traian Basescu posed wearing an apron a
Tuesday: January 20, 2015
When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open?
Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)
WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus
The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia. WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he told reporters it was a "proactive move". The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added. The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79. (Read more at Xinhua)
Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream. Or is it just too fanciful? By Francesco Sisci
Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan
The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates. By Aidan Foster-Carter
Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit. By Zofeen Ebrahim
Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries. By Robert M. Cutler
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Romanian president Traian Basescu posed wearing an apron a
(HN, August 16, 2011) - As western nations withdraw from Iraq amid a flurry of reconstruction projects, shocking tales are emerging of abuse of foreign migrant workers.
In some cases the situation is so dire that the UN's International Organization for Migration (IOM) has been forced to step in to assist the victims.
In the latest case, the IOM provided humanitarian assistance to a group of 35 Ukrainian and Bulgarian workers left in desperate straits by their employer in Iraq.
In another case this month, more than two dozen boys from Punjab approached the Indian mission in Baghdad for help, saying they were trafficked into Iraq and forced to clear defused and live ammunition for preparing fields for agriculture. The young victims were promised $800 every month, but were not paid any money for months and forced to live in inhumane conditions, India Today reported.
Earlier today, at a media briefing in Geneva monitored by HUMNEWS, the IOM appealed to private companies to honour their obligations to take care of their workers and follow national immigration, labour and human rights norms.
IOM staff found the abuse during several visits a day to a construction site where the migrants are living in crowded, dark, dirty and unventilated conditions. Staff brought food, water and medical assistance.
The Ukrainians and Bulgarians being assisted by IOM are part of an original group of 217 migrants, including Nepalese, recruited to work on a construction project inside the international zone in Baghdad in December 2010.
According to IOM, the men, who had been promised salaries of US$2,500 when hired, have so far only received a few hundred dollars despite having worked very long hours for months. When a sub-contractor absconded, work on the construction site stopped, leaving the migrants without money or clean water and little access to food.
With their employer also having failed to get them the necessary residency permits as promised, the migrants automatically became undocumented workers.
Some of the 217 migrants have been moved to work on another site while others have succumbed to pressure by the employer and agreed to leave the country for a one-time payment of US$1,000. However, after being forced to pay their transport home and charges for overstaying a 10-day visa, the migrants were left with little money.
The 35 migrant still at the site are living in unsanitary conditions and without electricity. Some of the migrants have health problems related to poor food intake and drinking unsafe water. Having borrowed money to pay recruitment agents to get the job in Iraq in the first place, the migrants are in debt which they are unlikely to pay off unless they are paid their salaries.
"As an immediate step, their salaries need to be paid, for the employer to stop threatening them to leave the country without due remuneration and for the migrants to eventually be assisted home in a safe and dignified way," says Livia Styp-Rekowska, from IOM Baghdad. "In this particular case we are fortunate that the migrants are in the International Zone and we have direct access to them. This is not true of the vast majority of the migrant exploitation cases we know about."
IOM says the case highlights the need for more long-term responses to foreign labour exploitation in Iraq as contractors, many of them foreign, take advantage of reconstruction efforts.
While many are aware of the problem of internal displacement in Iraq, the same cannot be said of human trafficking for labour or for migrant exploitation.
"This is a very serious problem in the country. Many if not most of the foreign workers in Iraq are undocumented through no fault of their own, leaving them in an extremely vulnerable position," Styp-Rekowska adds. "We are talking of many tens of thousands of foreign workers. What is needed to stop this kind of exploitation is a comprehensive labour migration policy in Iraq and for the new counter-trafficking law to be passed by parliament combined with an effective system that protects trafficked or stranded migrants."
Labour mobility, says IOM, is a key feature of globalization with a significant impact on the global economy. In 2007, migrant workers from developing countries sent home through formal channels more than US$240 billion.
International migrants could number 405 million by 2050 if migration continues to grow at the same pace as during the last 20 years, IOM says.
- HUMNEWS staff, IOM