Vital Signs

Vital Signs: Quantifying and Researching Asian worker deaths in the Gulf Building a Coalition for Greater Protection


The economies of the six hydrocarbon-rich Gulf states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates (“the GCC states”) are highly dependent on low-paid migrant workers from Asian states such as India, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, and the Philippines. These workers sustain a wide range of sectors, from domestic service to hospitality to construction. Whereas rights groups, trade unions, academics, and the media have extensively documented migrant worker abuses and identified the laws and policies, and practices responsible, there is a critical gap in this body of research: nobody knows how many of these workers are dying, or the causes of their death. The dearth of reliable information makes it highly challenging to advocate with governments on addressing this issue.

Under this circumstance, a multi-year project on worker deaths will fill this gap and empower a network of organisations from Asia who can effectively engage governments in five origin states to promote better protection for migrant workers in the six Gulf states and seek the publication of more detailed data to better inform policymakers in both origin and destination states.

The objectives of this project include: Low-paid migrant workers in the Gulf states enjoy significantly better protection from risks to their physical and mental health; Key stakeholders in origin states, notably policymakers, are actively and collectively engaged in promoting migrant worker protection in the Gulf states.