Same Story, Different Locale

Anthony Shadid reports from the U.A.E. about the plight of South Asian migrants, who were hired to work in the huge construction projects undertaken in the Emirates, and have not been paid for several months:

A sweltering fog still shrouded the East Coast & Hamriah Co. labor camp when, dressed in the equivalent of their Sunday best, the migrant workers set out after dawn Tuesday. They didn’t shower beforehand. Water was cut last year to their shantytown, now abandoned by their employer. They didn’t eat breakfast. They have no electricity to cook.

They simply bundled into plastic bags their yellowing court papers, an 18-month chronicle of their attempt to get paid by a now bankrupt company, and began their trek on foot — six, maybe seven miles — to the Sharjah Federal Court. They walked out a bent and rusted gate, past a crumbling cinder-block wall and through a sprawling pool of sewage, which splashed over their sandaled feet.

“Either they pay us or send our corpses home,” said Imtiaz Ahmed Siddiq, one of the South Asian laborers, who has made the trek to the court more than 50 times since last year. “If they pay us, we’ll go home alive. If they don’t pay us, we’ll go home dead.”

Ugh. I couldn’t finish the article–I was so angry I wanted to fling my laptop against the wall. And this horrible situation repeats itself across the Gulf, where each country has very large immigrant classes.


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