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Lost rights of Yemeni Workers in Saudi Arabia Lost rights of Yemeni Workers in Saudi Arabia
by Abdullah A. Ali Sallam
2013-02-15 09:21:58
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Recently Saudi authorities expelled more than 500 Yemeni workers, despite the fact they had had issued visas.

And there are more than 3000 Yemeni's working in calling centers, detained due to false accusations of a crime.

Yemen is considered the poorest country in the Arab world, with a per-capita income of $1,300; almost half of the population lives on less than $2 a day.

According to the last census conducted in 2008, Yemen is a country privileged by its young population wherein over 70 percent are of the age group 15– 45. However, this bliss turns to out to be a curse due to the deteriorating economic situation coupled with higher rates of unemployment and school drop-outs.

Over 34 percent of youth of the productive age group are jobless and frustrated, according to official sources, while international reports puts the number of unemployment at percentage higher than the above number.

Over 45 percent of Yemenis are jobless, and with the financial and economic stagnation caused by the Yemen’s current political upheavals, the number is undoubtedly going to rise.

Under these circumstances of unemployment, deteriorating economic situation and price hikes, more educated youth now seek better chances in neighboring countries or elsewhere.

Yemen is strategically important, not only for Saudi Arabia, but for the world, because it is the only country on the Arabian Peninsula from which oil can reach the open seas without passing through a narrow strait - either the Strait of Hormuz or the Suez Canal. To endanger this passage is to endanger the world economy's energy lifeline.

Saudi Arabia's relationship with Yemen is unlike that with any other Arab country. The two countries are joined through historical, ethnic, and tribal ties, yet neither has the means to resolve popular resentments and resistance.

Though the bilateral and official relations between both countries have improved after signing Jeddah treaty in 2002, which ended the long-lasting dispute over borders, there has been no such improvement as for treating the Yemeni labor force.

Every day, thousands of jobless Yemenis attempt to illegally enter Saudi Arabia seeking work opportunities in the neighboring oil-rich Gulf country. And the number is now rapidly on the rise.

Last year, Saudi border authorities prevented over 200 Yemeni emigrants from entering its lands without plain reasons, despite the fact they had had visas issued by Saudi authorities.

Also dozens of Yemenis reportedly die every month in the Saudi deserts for lack of water or food on their perilous journey to find work over the border.

Media sources had revealed that 13 illegal Yemeni emigrants died in Al-Muhmel desert to the south of Saudi Arabia's Baishah province as they were trying to infiltrate into Saudi lands in search for work and money.

In fact, Yemen’s economic woes have been exacerbated by repeated expulsions over the past two decades of Yemeni workers from the Kingdom and other Gulf states heavily dependent on foreign labor.  GCC states will have to put in place labor agreements that regulate the migration of labor and put a halt to the illegal movement across the Saudi border of Yemenis desperate for economic

In lieu of granting Yemen full membership, the GCC is likely to look at ways of improving employment prospects in a country whose economic problems were multiplied in the early 1990s when Saudi Arabia expelled some one million Yemeni workers in retaliation for Yemen’s support of Saddam. The expulsion deprived Yemen of badly needed remittances that were often invested into small and medium-sized enterprises constituting the backbone of the Yemeni economy.

Many problems have been aggravated along the Saudi southern border, including security, smuggling, and child drugs trafficking.

In fact GCC says that we do not want a failed state on its borders where terrorist groups may breed, as this would increase regional insecurity and instability. But unfortunately GCC do not support this issue in the reality especially the economic side that will solve issue of poverty and unemployment

On the contrary Yemeni workers are facing  many traumas. This doesn’t just start only with the employers, but with the recruitment agents who extract as much as they can from the workers.

And the workers are denied any legal rights and often deprived of the measly wages owed to them. On arrival in the Gulf states, their passports are confiscated. They have no means of redress and thus become nothing more than human chattel.

Yemeni workers also complain of the high cost of attaining a visa to Saudi Arabia, especially when the price of the visa could reach YR 1 million. They further complained of working under guarantors which restrict their freedom in work and movement.

Despite the developed relations Yemen with Saudi Arabia , many challenges stand between both countries, especially concerning Yemeni laborers working in Saudi Arabia as well as the bad treatment of illegal immigrants by Saudi.

For example, Saudi labor law says in Article (40):

(1) An employer shall incur the fees pertaining to recruitment of non-Saudi workers, the fees of the residence permit (Iqama) and work permit together with their renewal and the fines resulting from their delay, as well as the fees pertaining to change of profession, exit and re-entry visas and return tickets to the worker’s home country at the end of the relation between the two parties. But everything pays by the Yemeni worker.

In Saudi Arabia this is extremely common within local companies, while some, but not all foreign owned companies do provide better conditions, viewing a good labor force as an asset rather than a resource to be exploited.

Foreign labor practices are an embarrassment to the region and callous exploitation of people. It also shows that Saudi local firms still have very immature management, particularly in the HR area and have a long way to go until local companies can be claimed to be run as well as those in developed countries.

Various euphemisms are used. “Guest workers”, “expatriate laborers”, “migrant workers”, “foreign nationals”. These euphemisms, as with the terms “employer” and “sponsor”, are used to conceal the fact that the system of labor underpinning the Arab Gulf economies is a form of modern slavery.

Another glaring contradiction is the claim by these same Gulf monarchies that they are supporting the transition process uprising in Yemen. Modern Arab slave-trading regimes standing up for human rights in other Arab countries. The Saudi supporting spotlights the kingdom’s role in Yemen where it is as much part of the problem as it is part of the solution

Though there are no exact statistics about the number of Yemeni youth infiltrating to Saudi lands in search for jobs like farming, herding, etc; that thousands of Yemenis enter into Saudi Arabia looking for work there particularly in the southern areas of the kingdom.

 But the Yemeni workers continued to face exploitation and abuse by private and state employers, and victims had little or no redress. Typical abuses included long working hours, non-payment of salaries and violence, particularly against women domestic workers. Women domestic workers who fled abusive sponsors often ended up facing worse conditions in the illegal labor market.

According to a spokesperson from HRW, Saudi Arabian law does not provide strong legal protection for migrant workers and housemaids. As such, they face "arbitrary arrests, unfair trials and harsh punishments" and may falsely be accused of a crime 

Also Amnesty said it had grown alarmed at the "disproportionate" number of migrant workers in Saudi Arabia being executed. Nearly all migrant workers in Saudi Arabia are at great risk if they end up in the criminal justice system.

The surprising thing that Human Rights and International Organizations know  about this issue ,but do not present anything.

However Saudi Arabia will support Yemen with about 4 billion dollar but it has not given any real support for protect human rights or facilities which help Yemeni workers in their living either in Yemen or in Saudi.

Abdullah A. Sallam

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ali2013-02-15 13:24:17
well said.. it is really pethatic

Thanos2013-02-15 14:53:54
Excellent article

Leah Sellers2013-02-16 06:12:35
Yemen's Story is a microcosm of a disturbingly increasing macrocosm.
Human Rights and a Level and Fair Playing Field go hand-in-hand with the eventual Economic and Cultural successes and Uplifting of Everyone.

Murray Hunter2013-02-16 07:47:25
Thanks for the unique insights that many of us dont get the opportunity to know or read about.

Yemeni worker2013-02-16 14:06:21
It's right Mr. Abdullah .
Also there are a lot of thing happen against Yemeni workers from Saudi citizens but it is hidden.

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