ADHRB raises human rights violations against migrant workers in the GCC

On 1 October 2020, ADHRB has delivered an oral intervention at the United Nation Human Rights Council session 45 during interactive debate under item 9.

Mr. President,

ADHRB would like to raise our concern regarding the continued disregard of states for the Durban Declaration and Program of Action’s call to protect individuals from discrimination. We are indeed seriously concerned about the increase of xenophobia and racial discrimination in GCC countries.

Indeed the COVID pandemic has exacerbated the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)  states’ xenophobic discourse and discrimination against migrant workers. In terms of discrimination, hundreds of thousands of foreign workers are living in unsanitary and overcrowded living conditions. In these camps and housing facilities, foreign workers do not benefit from the same access to proper medical prevention as GCC’s nationals and are thus more at risk of contracting and transmitting the virus.

The higher rates of COVID cases within the migrant population exacerbated the xenophobic discourse and policies of authorities of GCC countries. As a result, the authorities adopted a discriminatory policies consisting of isolating and deporting migrants. It has been the case in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. For example, Kuwaiti MP Safaa al-Hashem called for the deportation of foreign workers who had overstayed their visas in order to “purify” the country.

The Durban Declaration and Program of Actions state and reaffirm that all human beings are equal in dignity and rights. We call on all states, including Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Bahrain to uphold their responsibilities under the Durban Declaration to ensure equal access to proper medical protection and healthcare for national and foreigners.

Thank you.