According to GDP partner Migrant-Rights.org, which has posted a dedicated page updating responses by all GCC countries to Covid-19 and its impact on migrant workers in the Gulf (see link below), the government of Kuwait has taken a series of measures that affect migrant workers in the country, including with respect to detention and deportation. In particular, according to Migrant-Rights.org:
– The Interior Ministry has asked that all businesses stop employing “live-out” workers and has detained several such workers for medical examinations.
– Since Kuwait shut down its airport, the recruitment of “live-in” domestic workers remains at a standstill.
– The Interior Ministry has also announced that expats who do not comply with measures to contain COVID-19 could be deported and several have been arrested so far.
– Officials have set up temporary accommodation for approximately 25,000 migrant workers who work for companies contracted with the Ministry of Health to ensure they do not interact with others.
The country has reportedly sought to continue deportation flights despite the crisis, though several home countries initially refused to accept their nationals without medical tests. On 23 March, the Arab Times reported that both India and the Philippines have refused to accept deportees without a medical certificate: “Security sources revealed that the (Kuwaiti) Ministry of the Interior stopped completing the procedures for deporting 340 Filipino and Indian nationalities from the deportation prison after both the countries refused to receive the deportees. Both countries require a health certificate for every deportee that they are free from coronavirus which stopped the procedures after legal matters were completed. The sources stated that 3 flights were supposed to be carried out, 2 of them to India and the third one to the Philippine capital Manila, but all trips were canceled due to the request of the authorities of both countries for a health certificate stating the safety of everyone who is deported from diseases.”
Kuwait is one of several Gulf countries to have asked Bangladesh to accept the return of its undocumented workers, who number in the tens of thousands. The Daily Star reported on 9 April: “According to an expatriates’ welfare ministry official, Kuwait asked several countries, including the Philippines, India, Sri Lanka, Egypt and Bangladesh, to take back the undocumented migrant workers. ‘The Philippines already started repatriation of its undocumented nationals in Kuwait. Egypt agreed to do so. India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh had observed that it would be better if the repatriation was done after the coronavirus pandemic was over,’ he said. Kuwait, however, warned that the countries that don’t take back their undocumented workers now, might not get priority when Kuwait starts fresh recruitment later, the official said preferring anonymity. Later, it was finalised, by Kuwait and Bangladesh, that 125 Bangladeshis, in deportation centres and waiting to return, and 190 others in prison for committing various crimes, would be deported between April 16 and 20, the official said.”
- Migrant-Rights.org, “GCC Covid-19 Policies Need to Better Protect Migrant Workers from Infections and Other Related Vulnerabilities,” https://www.migrant-rights.org/2020/03/gcc-covid-19-policies-need-to-better-protect-migrant-workers-from-infections-and-other-related-vulnerabilities/
- Arab Times, “India, Philippines Refuse to Accept 340 Deportees from Kuwait Without Health Certificate,” March 2020, http://www.arabtimesonline.com/news/india-philippines-refuse-to-accept-340-deportees-from-kuwait-without-health-certificate/
- Global Detention Project, “Immigration Detention in Kuwait,” https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/middle-east/kuwait
- Daily Star, “Countries Dealing with Covid-19 Ask Bangladesh to Take Back its Undocumented Workers,” 9 April 2020, https://www.thedailystar.net/backpage/news/another-worry-bangladesh-1891147