A huge fire engulfed a windowless house in Najran, Saudi Arabia, claiming the lives of 11 migrant laborers.
The migrants, who died of smoke inhalation and lack of oxygen, came from India and Bangladesh to work in Saudi Arabia.
All of the workers shared the house that caught fire.
“Firefighters put out a blaze in an old house lacking windows for ventilation. Eleven people died of asphyxiation and six others were injured,” said the civil defense.
According to the last official figures released in 2015, 9 million foreigners work in Saudi Arabia and most of them come from South Asia.
Activists have voiced concerns regarding the increasingly poor working conditions of the workers. Due to strict rules, the employees are unable to switch jobs or leave the country until and unless their employer allows them to.
Despite years of criticism, Saudi Arabia still mistreats its labor force. In fact, the country’s economic slowdown has only made things worse for migrant workers.
Recently, a report emerged that showed thousands of unemployed Indian migrant workers stuck in Saudi Arabia without food. Nearly 16,000 laborers from India and Pakistan alone, working with big Saudi companies, have reportedly not been paid their salaries for about eight months.
Working conditions for foreign workers in the region continue to draw headlines.
An outrageous incident took place in Al-Salem, Kuwait, that showed the plight of domestic help in the Middle East. A house maid was filmed hanging from the seventh floor of an apartment in a building. The video clearly showed the woman begging for help but her heartless employer paid no heed to her pleas and instead filmed the scene. Seconds later, she fell from the seventh floor but miraculously landed on a corrugated roof of a laundry below.
Not long ago, eight princesses from the U.A.E. were convicted of bringing their servants to Belgium and allegedly “abused them continually” by a Brussels court.
According to Patricia LeCocq, spokesperson for the Belgian human rights organization Myria, “The servants were not paid, they worked day and night and had to sleep on the floor. The princesses shouted at them and abused them continually."
Jamila, a domestic helper for the princesses, told La Derniere Heure, a local media outlet, that she fled without clothes, without luggage and without a passport.
“I did not have a room, I slept in the corridor of the floor. It was constant verbal abuse. The princesses did not like their Moroccan and Tunisian maids. They called us b****es.”
In 2013, Saudi Arabia passed landmark legislation aimed at protecting women, children and domestic workers against domestic abuse. However, it stressed employees must “respect” Islam and “obey” their employers.
Banner/thumbnail credit: Reuters