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COVID-19 | Plea in SC wants govt. to bring back migrants stranded in Gulf

Pravasi Legal Cell says the labourers hardly have access to medical treatment in their accommodations and are vulnerable to contracting the infection.

April 10, 2020 09:36 pm | Updated 09:48 pm IST - NEW DELHI

 A general view shows almost empty streets, during the lockdown imposed to counter the COVID-19 outbreak in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 7, 2020.

A general view shows almost empty streets, during the lockdown imposed to counter the COVID-19 outbreak in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on April 7, 2020.

A petition was filed in the Supreme Court on Friday to direct the government to rescue and bring back Indian migrant labourers stranded in Gulf countries in the wake of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Referring to reports that the virus has infected crowded migrant labour camps in the Gulf countries, Pravasi Legal Cell said labourers have hardly access to medical treatment in their accommodations and are vulnerable to the virus.

 

Also read: A double whammy for India-Gulf economic ties

 

“Lives of Indian migrant workers are in danger. In the wake of lockdown in several Gulf states, workers have been quarantined in labour accommodation camps which are

notoriously overcrowded with lack of adequate water and sanitation. Workers’ proximity to one another in cramped camps does not allow for any type of social distancing,” the petition said.

Packed rooms

A typical labour accommodation in the Gulf countries is home to hundreds of thousands of men, often packed eight or 10 to a room, making it extremely difficult to stop the transmission of the virus. Communal kitchens and toilets shared by scores of men are often unsanitary and caked in grime, it said.

 

Also read: Rising demand to bring back expats stuck in Gulf

 

Chief Minister of Kerala and Members of Parliament from Kerala had already urged the Prime Minister and the External Affairs Minister to take appropriate measures urgently to ensure adequate food, medicines, quarantine and emergency service facilities are made available to the Indian diaspora in the Gulf countries, the petition submitted.

It urged the court to direct the government to intervene to ensure that migrant workers experiencing symptoms have access to timely corona testing, food, medicines, quarantine and emergency service facilities.

Free consultation

The petition said the government should make appropriate arrangements for their free medical consultation and counselling through online videoconferencing facility with doctors in India.

The petition also asked the government to come out with appropriate scheme to ensure financial support for the families of the migrant labourers rendered jobless due to COVID-19.

 

Also read: Fear of job loss, salary cut grips expatriates

 

The plea also said the government should come out with an evacuation plan. “The Indian government has operated special flights to evacuate Indian citizens stranded in various countries due to COVID-19. However, till now not even a single such special flight has been arranged to bring back the stranded poor migrants in Gulf countries,” the petition said.

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