The Boarders that Divide Humanity
Worldwide Migrant Labor Abuses
Extreme poverty and unemployment have often driven many into uncharted territories across boarders in search for greener pastures. During the pandemic in 2021, the global migrant crisis worsened across the world. Resultantly, inhumane immigration practises and lack of safeguards in the work environment is what characterises the typical daily life of many migrant workers. Most of these migrant workers are usually undocumented and due to the fear of arrest and deportation, they shun from speaking out about labor rights abuses, oftentimes settling for exploitation.
As I watched the 2022 FIFA Men’s World Cup final, I marveled at the grandeur of the stadium that hosted the greatest game that has united humanity across the world. As millions watched, I believe for many, the magnificence was marred with the dark cloud characterizing the silent cries of serious human rights abuses enshrined in migrant worker rights abuse and thousands of deaths from unexplained causes, mostly experienced during the 12-year preparations. The international media, unions and human rights organizations have shone a spotlight on abuses of migrant workers’ rights in Qatar. Qatar won its bid to host the 2022 World Cup in December 2010 and spent billions of dollars on a stadium-building spree, a new airport, roads, hotels, infrastructure upgrades in preparation, attracting thousands of migrant laborers.
Spending hours on end working for meagre wages, all with the hope of making life better for loved ones left back home is the life of most migrants. Lost in thought after a long day, walking to a makeshift house, one is unexpectedly greeted by an angry “xenophobic” mob; the manifestation of what truly divides us- country boarders. The images of seeing a man stoned and burnt alive, the deep agonizing cries and the smell of human flesh roasting in fire still haunts me. As the precious soul is slowly dying, you hear chants and remarks full of unimaginable hatred, “Go back to your country and leave our jobs alone.”
According to an International Labor Organization (ILO) report, migrant workers contribute to the economies of their host countries, and the remittances they send home help to boost the economies of their countries of origin. Yet, migrant workers often benefit from inadequate social protection and are vulnerable to exploitation and human trafficking. Skilled migrant workers are less vulnerable to exploitation, but their departure deprives some developing countries of the valuable labor needed for their own economies.
Having noted all the above, what then defines humanity? Can we expect any tangible reforms and commitment to labor rights beyond World Cup 2022? Can we expect the environment in the workplace to significantly improve for the migrant worker? How long shall we allow country boarders to divide us?