Rising in the Middle East: Forced Labor from Africa

Rising in the Middle East: Forced Labor from Africa

It was a Wednesday afternoon in August 2017 and dozens of people were lining up on the platform of Noor Bank metro station, in Dubai. As the train approached, a man jumped in front of it.

The police report revealed he was a 36-year-old migrant worker from Uganda. His embassy said he was likely “frustrated” by poor working conditions, a local daily wrote a few paragraphs on the case, then the news moved on.

But the suicide only punctuated a widespread new pattern of labor exploitation of thousands of African migrant workers in the Persian Gulf States. A recent report by a Ugandan parliamentary committee revealed that, in 2017, at least 35 Ugandans killed themselves in the United Arab Emirates — mostly as a result of unpaid wages and abuse.


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