Speaking to Tribune, Sudheer Thirunilath, World NRI Council’s ad hoc director for Middle East, said despite strict actions from the part of authorities a good number of expat labourers are forced to live under inhuman conditions. “In April alone, there were 10 suicides. Family pressure, financial difficulties, loneliness, workload, miserable living conditions, are often the problems they face here.
Company managers and sponsors need to be more attentive and try to attend to their problems and worries,” he pointed out. Mr Thirunilath said that labourers’ requests for leaves often get rejected. “The living expenses in the Kingdom are increasing day by day but salaries are not increasing. And this make survival really hard for the labourers. “All companies should have counsellors who can spent some time with these labourers, sharing their worries and helping to address them. Such approaches can save many lives.”
Labour Ministry Undersecretary Sabah Al Dossary said the ministry has always been trying to find ways to reduce the number of suicides among expat labourers. “It is a big social issue and financial issues should be seen as the main reason. “We have resolved many cases of labourers following the non-payment of salaries. The ministry is committed to protect the rights of labourers, but they should approach us for help,” he said. Mr Al Dossary said the Kingdom has a proper justice system in place, which is capable of finding solutions to the problems faced by expatriate workers, who come here seeking better standards of living.
Dr Babu Ramachandran, vice-chairman of Indian Community Relief Fund, said these suicides have strong connection to the poor living conditions at labour accommodation facilities. “Tough economic situations are also a big reason. These days the labourers are hardly saving any money, unlike the yesteryears.
Their frustration mounts up every day leading to suicides. “Lack of emotional support is another issue that haunts expat labourers. They don’t have anyone here to share their feelings and sufferings, which make them vulnerable.” Dr Babu said that in most cases larger families are totally dependent on these labourers, adding pressure on them. “Finally everything boils down to financial issues.” Unlike others, these expats never seek psychiatric help owing to lack of awareness or poor financial situations. “We have to first identify suicidal tendencies among people and this is not an easy exercise. “Everyone including social workers, employers and even those who share accommodation should come forward to help each other. Then only we can arrive at a solution or else the numbers are going to rise.”