Protect rights of migrants amidst pandemic: Transparency Maldives

The human rights watchdog, Transparency Maldives, has urged the Maldivian government to protect the rights of migrant workers as the capital faces a surge in virus cases

Apr 23, 2020
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Male: The human rights watchdog, Transparency Maldives, has urged the Maldivian government to protect the rights of migrant workers as the capital faces a surge in virus cases. In a statement, Transparency Maldives said that the migrant workers were one of the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in the Maldives.

“It is important to recognize and address the ways a health pandemic exacerbates the issues faced by the migrant population in the country,” the statement said. Maldives has a migrant population of some 200,000, many of whom live in congested shared quarters, making them particularly vulnerable to COVID-19.

The rights body called on Maldives Association of Construction Industry (MACI) and Maldives Association of Tourism Industry (MATI) – the two organizations which represent the industries which employ the majority of migrant workers - to ensure migrant workers have access to all COVID-19 related messages and information issued by health authorities.

The two organizations have also been urged to proactively ensure the safety and the wellbeing of all workers. They also urged them to check on the living and health conditions of migrant workers and ensure it meets the Health Protection Agency (HPA) standards. They also asked them to arrange alternative accommodation, wherever necessary, and to check on their food deliveries and personal hygiene.

The archipelago identified its first virus case on April 15 in Male city, leading to a lockdown on the greater Male region. Cases in the capital have since risen to 75. A significant number of migrant workers have become infected with the virus, with the vast majority of them being Bangladeshi nationals.

The Maldivian government has previously stated that it will not discriminate between Maldivian nationals and foreign nationals in granting access to essential services including food and healthcare amid the crisis.