Bahrain to build shelter for needy expats
Manama, November 18, 2012
Bahrain will set up a state-of-the-art residential shelter to help needy expatriates in the kingdom, said a top official.
Believed to be the first of its kind in the Middle East, it will be run by the Bahrain Federation of Expatriate Associations (BFEA) and funded by local companies and private donors, said a report in our sister publication the Gulf Daily News.
The shelter will provide accommodation, three meals a day and other facilities such as free Internet access and telephone calling cards to allow residents to keep in touch with their friends and family.
Transportation will also be provided to help people visit their embassy and other relevant authorities to manage their affairs.
No time frame has been given for the opening of the shelter, but it will be located in Manama and has already received the relevant government approval.
It aims to help people who have suffered as a result of attacks by anti-government protesters.
"Airline tickets for those wishing to return home whilst the federation pursues their affairs on their behalf will also be available," said BFEA secretary-general Betsy Mathieson.
"The shelter will also offer support in the form of legal advice, health care, counselling and will ensure expatriates are aware of their rights and offered our assistance to pursue their rights.
"Many of the most vulnerable members of our communities are exploited by unscrupulous employers who rely on their ignorance of the law and their rights and it is our duty to address this as we are all entitled to equal human rights."
Mathieson said labour, health, residency and legal issues were just some of the areas that will be tackled by BFEA via in-house counsellors.
"We are also keen to ensure that if there is any form of compensation due to expatriates that they are assisted to pursue this and we will not hesitate to pressure authorities concerned in this regard," she said.
The shelter will also offer a free 24-hour helpline, which will be manned by a team of multi-lingual volunteers to ensure callers can discuss problems in their own language.
BFEA feels the shelter will help combat the increasing suicide rate amongst expatriates in Bahrain, with at least 50 taking their lives since the start of the year.
"We are aware that many domestic workers and construction industry workers suffer from shocking working and living conditions but we are also aware that any member of our communities can find themselves in difficulty and we are here to offer a helping hand to everyone," said Mathieson.
"We know that many charities and societies in Bahrain already do excellent work to assist expatriates on an ad hoc basis, but we recognise this is not enough and the federation feel that the time has come for a permanent residential shelter where we can join hands with other organisations to work together to help those in need.
"We have received outstanding support from the government of Bahrain who has worked with us to remove all obstacles and swiftly approve our application to move forward with the shelter.
"The Minister of Human Rights has offered full support from his Ministry on an ongoing basis for which we are very grateful." – TradeArabia News Service