Transparency Maldives urges protection of migrant rights amid virus outbreak

Migrant workers wear face masks and gloves as they gather at the Food Court in Male' City on April 22, 2020. (Sun Photo/Fayaz Moosa)

Human rights watchdog Transparency Maldives, on Thursday, called on the Maldivian government to protect the rights of migrant workers as the capital faces a surge in virus cases.

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.

Transparency Maldives, in a statement this morning, noted the migrant workers were one of the most vulnerable and marginalized groups in Maldives.

“It is important to recognize and address the ways a health pandemic exacerbates the issues faced by the migrant population in the country,” said Transparency Maldives in its statement.

Maldives has a migrant population of some 200,000, many of whom live in congested shared quarters, making them particularly vulnerable to infectious diseases such as COVID-19.

The NGO 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 wellbeing of all workers

Transparency Maldives urged MACI and MATI to organize industry employers to check on the living and health conditions of migrant workers and ensure it meets Health Protection Agency (HPA) standards, provide migrant workers with alternative accommodation where necessary, and to check on their food deliveries and personal hygiene.

Male’ City identified its first virus case on April 15, leading to a lockdown on the greater Male ‘region. Cases in the capital have since risen to 75, it includes 29 Bangladeshi workers and six Indian workers.