Bodufinolhu expats pleading for access to healthcare

Expatriates on Bodufinolhu island in B. Atoll.

Expatriates on the island of B. Bodufinolhu have expressed concern over the lack of access to healthcare when three individuals on the island required urgent consultation.

The island was the location of violence between the Maldivian Police and around 200 expatriates on July 2. The migrants protested over months of unpaid wages and held some locals on the island hostage. The events prompted an operation by Police to free the locals which initially resulted in violence but was later resolved peacefully.

For the full coverage of the Bodufinolhu violence, click here

The island is contracted for development to a company owned by Milandhoo MP Ali Riza. The developers of the island is a company Seal Maldives. Both companies have denied responsibility for the unpaid wages that lead to chaos.

An expatriate who spoke with Sun on behalf of others on the island said that one individual had suffered injuries when he stepped on a nail in the kitchen of the island. The injury was worsening due to a lack of healthcare.

Another migrant was suffering toothaches while another migrant had a rash resulting in blisters.

“Three are very sick. We asked the police to get them to a doctor. No answer by the police so far.” Said the individual who spoke with Sun.

"No answer from MP Riza"

The individual also expressed gratitude towards the police on the island for providing them with anything they requested, including medication. However, the conditions of the expatriates were still not getting better, said the individual.

“We first asked the police to consult with a doctor. I think police informed Riza (MP Ali Riza). Not sure, police are helping. They brought medicine and Panadol. But it is not getting better.” Said the expatriate.

He added that he had contacted the Managing Director of the company that was responsible for them. The Managing Director, MP Ali Riza had not answered his phone.

“I called once, not many. He didn’t pick up so I didn’t call more.” Said the individual.

Milandhoo MP Ali Riza. (Photo/Parliament)

There were no complaints regarding food arrangements, however, he said that they had not received any wages since January of 2020.

Currently, there were 179 individuals on the island, with some wishing to return home. Some still wanted to remain in the Maldives.

There have been suspicions that the expatriates on the island were subjected to human trafficking activities. The riots on the island had resulted in the expatriates damaging property and vandalizing equipment and heavy vehicles on the island. Nineteen were arrested in connection with the riots. 

The individual said that in the aftermath of the incident, authorities had collected their info9rmation and photos. No word has been received since then. 

“We have not been told anything else. Whether we will be sent to Male’, we haven’t been told.” Said the individual that spoke with Sun.

MP Riza had also admitted after the incident that the expatriates were owed four months of wages which were halted due to the economic situation of COVID-19.

He said that the funds to be received from Seal Maldives for the wages under the agreement between the two companies had not been received.

Police are now investigating the allegations against RIX Maldives owned by MP Ali Riza for the unpaid wages and claims of human trafficking as well as the unfair and unethical exploitation of labor. Human Rights Commission is yet to comment on the matter. Whether HRCM visited the island to assess the situation and check on the expatriates is also unknown.