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30 July 2020 – Bahrain

Sign Prohibiting Visitors from Entering a Migrant Camp in Bahrain, (Migrant-Rights,
Sign Prohibiting Visitors from Entering a Migrant Camp in Bahrain, (Migrant-Rights, "We are All Going to Die Here: 150 Workers from Orlando Construction Company in Bahrain, Victims of Wage-Theft, Now Contend with Covid-19 Infections," 26 June 2020,

Responding to the Global Detention Project’s request to complete our Covid-19 survey, Bahrain’s National Institution for Human Rights (NIHR) provided a document detailing its role and actions during the coronavirus pandemic. The NIHR’s Committee on Detention & Facilities Visitation, convened on 28 May, affirmed the importance of continuing its visits to correction, rehabilitation, shelter and health and social care centres and houses during the pandemic to ensure compliance with the directives issued regarding preventive and precautionary measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19. The committee also stated the importance of working to find an appropriate mechanism to monitor the conditions of migrant workers in light of the current exceptional conditions, to ensure the availability of services provided to them.

The NIHR reported that on 19 April they communicated with some expatriate workers, examining their living conditions in isolation, treatment and precautionary quarantine centres and ensured that they enjoy safety, cleanliness and healthcare in accordance with established standards. The NIHR praised the measures taken by the Kingdom of Bahrain in order to provide an appropriate environment for expatriate workers.

Despite efforts from part of the Kingdom of Bahrain to mitigate the impact of Covid-19 on migrant workers, up to 90 percent of active cases of Covid-19 in the country were in migrant work camps due to their dense population and lack of resources. The government implemented various measures to curb the spread of Covid-19. Their initial response was to relocate 8,011 individuals out of camps and into several different buildings, including closed schools, to reduce overcrowding. The government pledged to cover migrant workers’ medical expenses and to distribute 30,000 hot meals a day to workers seeking food. Even though IOM applauded Bahrain’s response to Covid-19 in migrant camps, new cases have continued to mount, with 654 confirmed cases on 8 June alone. Nonetheless, testing has reportedly become a priority for the government and Bahrain has also said it has imported more than 100 tons of medical equipment from China and India to increase its mitigation efforts.

On 26 June, reported that some 150 workers from a construction company had not been paid for three to six months, and that workers, mainly from India and Bangladesh, were struggling to survive in a dilapidated camp without food and income. With three workers testing positive for the disease, the situation had become precarious and two people were transferred to a quarantine facility in Sitra and another isolated in a separate room in the labour camp in Tubli, along with other workers who have shown symptoms. However, although workers have been allocated separate toilets and rooms, they still share the same cooking and dining space, exposing the rest of them to infection. In June 2018, the workers had lodged a complaint at the Ministry of Labour with assistance of social workers and while some wages were retrieved, the company has since reverted to only paying one month’s worth of wages every two to three months. Yet, the company reportedly has faced no repercussions, reflecting Bahrain’s weak regulatory framework. Workers appear to be growing desperate; one Indian worker told Migrants-Rights: “I have been sitting in my room for six months waiting for my salary to go back home, nobody is helping us, and now inside we have corona also. We are all going to die here.”

NIHR indicated that they had visited the Jaw Correction and Rehabilitation Centre on 7 April to review the human rights conditions and medical care provided to inmates in light of the precautionary measures taken by the administration to limit the spread of Covid-19. Ms. Maria Khoury, Chairperson of the NIHR, said: “I’d like to confirm that (the centre) complies with international standards recommended by the WHO for prevention of spread of Coronavirus among the inmates, and that there is a medical staff that provides the necessary medical care and services.” She also added that there were no infections among inmates. In addition, during a seminar organised by the OHCHR Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa on the effect of Covid-19 on trafficking in persons, the Director General of IOM, Mr. Antonio Vitorino, praised the efforts of the Kingdom of Bahrain in correcting the situation of 17,000 irregular migrant workers as one of the best international practices to deal with the Covid-19 crisis.