Monday, November 25, 2013

Beyond Outrage: How the African Diaspora Can Support Migrant Worker Rights in the Middle East

In the past weeks, Ethiopians have protested at Saudi Embassies around the world because of recently posted videos documenting wanton violence against Ethiopian migrant workers in Saudi Arabia. This occurred during a Saudi crackdown on unregistered foreign workers in the Kingdom, which followed a seven month amnesty period. After the November 4th deadline, Ethiopian migrant workers in Riyadh attempted to protest the police tactics in the round up and became the target of angry vigilante mobs that beat and killed at least 3 Ethiopian workers, and injured many more. This violence is only symptom of the larger problem that is the lack of legal protection for migrant workers around the world. The situation is particularly acute in the Middle East, and the abuses against Africans in the region have become increasingly publicized in the past decade.

Abuse and mistreatment of migrant workers in the Middle East is well understood in the African Diaspora. It has been a year and a half since the tragic death of Ethiopian domestic worker Alem Dechasa-Desisa in Beirut, who committed suicide after being publicly beaten and threatened with deportation. Outrage followed that incident, but change has been slow or non-existent in Lebanon and the region since then.

It is time to move beyond outrage and to consider governmental and non-governmental strategies that the Ethiopian Diaspora, African Diaspora, activists in the Middle East and any willing allies can use to work towards ending the abuse of migrant domestic workers and refugees in the Middle East.

Some of my suggestions are:

Support Local Activists and Organizations in the Gulf and LebanonCollaborate With Other Migrant Worker Sending Countries and Diasporas

Continue to Publicize Migrant Worker Abuses

Support the Recent Reforms of the Ethiopian Government and Pressure for Action

Use Our Privilege and Resources as a Diaspora to Provide Support to Governments and Non-Governmental Organizations

Support Domestic Workers Rights in the United States

Read full piece here, by Kumera Genat

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