‘Need SOP to evacuate migrant workers’, recommends parliamentary panel
Migrant workers should be provided with information on dealing with emergency situations with during their pre-departure training phase, the parliamentary panel said in its report.Updated: Jan 17, 2019 23:41 IST
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
The Indian government should frame an emergency plan with standard operating procedures and an institutionalised mechanism with other countries to evacuate migrant workers, especially the millions in West Asia, a parliamentary panel has recommended.
The standing committee for the external affairs ministry made this recommendation in its latest report submitted to Parliament this month in view of the confirmation last year of the death of 39 Indians who were abducted by the Islamic State in Iraq in June 2014. The resident Indian community in West Asia is more than 8.5 million, and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states—Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates—and Malaysia are home to a majority of migrant Indian workers.
The Gulf region has been facing “frequent” crises in the recent past and the death of 39 Indian workers in Iraq was “a sad testimony to the security and safety challenges faced by them”, the committee said in its report.
“The committee recommend that the government should chalk out an emergency plan that clearly delineates the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and also forge an institutionalised mechanism with host countries to evacuate workers,” the report said.
Migrant workers should be provided with information on dealing with emergency situations with during their pre-departure training phase, it added.
The committee’s report said, however, the death of the 39 Indians in Iraq had “brought to the fore the challenges faced by Indian workers in conflict areas”. In his testimony to the committee in April 2018, foreign secretary Vijay Gokhale said there were SOPs designed to get Indians out of conflict zones “as safely and as quickly as possible”.
Talmiz Ahmad, a former Indian envoy to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, however, said there were practical difficulties associated with evacuating Indian workers.
“Even during conflicts, few workers want to leave as they have taken loans of lakhs of rupees to pay agents. During the 1990 invasion of Kuwait by Iraq, an Indian government directive to leave the area was vehemently opposed by Indian workers,” he said.
First Published: Jan 17, 2019 23:41 IST