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India feeds thousands of Gulf workers 'in crisis'

Sunday, July 31, 2016 - 20:23
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India is working on Sunday to feed more than 10,000 Indian labourers stranded in the Gulf with no wages after losing their jobs, in what Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj called a "food crisis".

[NEW DELHi] India is working on Sunday to feed more than 10,000 Indian labourers stranded in the Gulf with no wages after losing their jobs, in what Foreign Minister Sushma Swaraj called a "food crisis".

In a series of tweets, Mrs Swaraj said the migrant workers were facing "extreme hardship" and that two junior foreign ministers will be sent to Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to take up the issue with authorities.

"Large number of Indians have lost their jobs in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. The employers have not paid wages (and) closed down their factories," Mrs Swaraj said late on Saturday.

"As a result our brothers and sisters in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are facing extreme hardship. While situation in Kuwait is manageable, matters are much worse in Saudi Arabia.

"The number of Indian workers facing food crisis in Saudi Arabia is over ten thousand." Indians are among millions of poor Asians working in the Gulf states where human rights groups say many suffer exploitation and abuses including non-payment of wages, with no channels for redress.

Indian media on Sunday said the workers were "starving" in camps with no way of returning home, as Gulf countries face a drop in oil revenues from falling prices, prompting a downturn in construction and layoffs.

The Indian consulate in Jeddah posted a series of pictures on Twitter showing its nationals queuing up for food packets, eggs, spices and salt provided by its officials.

AFP