Wednesday, February 9, 2011

US embassies' foreign staff 'exploited'

US embassies in the Persian Gulf states are using low-level staff whose employers illegally confiscate their passports and provide them with poor living conditions.

An internal US State Department report says employers who provide gardeners, maids, cooks and local guards to embassies in Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates put the workers at risk of human trafficking.

Over three-quarters of the scores of workers at the embassies in question told investigators that they were forced to pay fees to get their jobs, which for more than 25 percent of them was equal to over a year of their salary, AP reported.

Some workers also told investigators they had not been paid wages. 

All of the surveyed contractors held the passports of their workers, who were mostly from Bangladesh, Ethiopia, India, Nepal, the Philippines and Sri Lanka.

Also, more than 70 percent of the workers said they lived in overcrowded, unsafe or unsanitary conditions.

The report added that though none of the embassies or contractors are technically violating US laws, but "the practices of some contractors negatively affect foreign workers and reflect poorly on the department."


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