Up to some 10,000 migrant workers from the south and south-east Asia die every year in the Gulf countries, according to a report by a human rights organisation.
There are about 30 million migrants working in the Arab Gulf states – the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia.
Many of the deaths are due to "natural causes" or "cardiac arrest", the report claims. However, the Gulf states are reportedly not conducting proper investigations to figure out why the number of deaths is so high each year.
The report, Vital Signs: The deaths of migrants in the Gulf, has been put together by NGOs from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, and the Philippines. FairSquare Projects, a London-based migrant rights organisation, also took part in compiling the report.
The workers are exposed to many risk factors, including heat, humidity, air pollution, abusive working conditions, poor occupational health and safety practices, psychosocial stress, and hypertension. The report suggests that long hours of manual labour in searing temperatures can result in heat stress and eventually can lead to organ damage.
Back in 2017, Julhas Uddin, a 37-year-old man from Bangladesh, died in Saudi Arabia. His supervisor had instructed him to enter a sewerage line without an oxygen cylinder. On the official records, it said that he passed away because his "heart and breathing stopped" and no further investigation was conducted, reports The Guardian.
"Despite the Gulf states' practical dependence on their migrant workforces and the bolstering impact migrant worker remittances have on the economies of their homelands, both origin and Gulf states have for too long paid inadequate attention to ensuring they return home in good health," said Anurag Devkota, a lawyer from Nepal's Law and Policy Forum for Social Justice. "As a result far too many do not return home at all, or do so in coffins or body bags."
Despite facing criticism for worker exploitation, the Gulf states continue to avoid structural labor reform and origin states have failed to ensure proper protection for their nationals abroad.
When asked for a comment, none of the governments of the six Gulf countries responded.