Thirty-five Ugandan workers commit suicide in just 8 months in UAE amid ‘appalling conditions’

“Lawmakers have criticised the UAE for its appalling work conditions — leading to sky-rocketing suicide rates among migrant workers.

Appalling working conditions in the UAE have reportedly contributed to 35 Ugandan citizens committing suicide since January, a new Ugandan parliamentary report has found.

A total of 48 Ugandans died in the first eight months of 2017, sparking a parliamentary inquiry into the reasons behind such high fatality numbers.

David Abala, a Ugandan lawmaker and the head of the committee said he was shocked by the findings of their field visit, claiming that rape, torture, unpaid wages and confinement were some of the chief reasons behind the suicide cases.

“Why is the government still sending workers to Arab countries that do not have bilateral agreements with Uganda?” Abala asked.

The commission reported that some Ugandan maids are treated “like slaves” and are not allowed to eat the same food as their employers or even use the same plates.

Migrant workers make up over half the UAE’s population but have limited labour rights, leaving them vulnerable to mistreatment.

Read more: Behind the glossy veneer: Human rights abuses in UAE

According to one association for foreign recruitment agencies, there are around 65,000 Ugandans currently working in the Middle East.

A Ugandan Embassy worker in Abu Dhabi told a UAE newspaper the embassy was trying to provide counselling to those in distress.

“I urge all Ugandans to come forward to the embassy or call us if you have any problems at work or other issues, so we can help,” said Dr Omara, a counsellor.

The following help lines can be contacted if you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts:

UAE: Suicide Dubai

UK: The Samaritans

US: The Samaritans

Robert Cusack

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