DEPORTED FOR HAVING HIV: POOR MIGRANT WORKERS’ FATE IN THE UNITED ARAB EMIRATES.

Author Yasin Kakande: The Ambitious Struggle is a book he chronicles the harsh life for migrants-particularly Ugandans-in the United Arab Emirates where he lived for 8+ years. He was deported for life out of the UAE when the book got published in 2013.

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In ‘The Ambitious Struggle: An African Journalist’s Journey to Hope and Identity in the Land of Migrants’, Kakande exposed the UAE’s racial profiling that mostly affects migrant workers from poor countries.

The scathing tales of migrant mistreatment including the denial to treatment of HIV positive migrant workers awaiting deportation, angered the UAE’s leadership which ordered the book banned in the UAE.

Printed copies from the book’s publisher in America were ruthlessly monitored and confiscated at the airport and prevented from entry into the UAE.

“To get a work permit in Dubai, employers and recruitment agencies require an HIV test for migrant workers. If it comes out positive, the worker will be put on the next plane to their country of origin. It is a form of quarantine,” Kakande said over a Skype interview with me.

“For those who have to wait for arrangements to be made to return them to their countries of origin, they are not given treatment or care in the UAE. As they await deportation, they are incarcerated and have no access to treatment for HIV.” Kakande revealed.

The UAE has increasingly come under criticism from Human Rights Organisation for expelling HIV positive workers who are suddenly deemed undesirable, unfit for work and a burden to the UAE because of HIV and other transmittable diseases diagnoses.

Migrant workers he revealed, are also tested for Tuberculosis, Hepatitis B (HBV), Hepatitis C (HCV), Leprosy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases when they apply for resident status in the UAE.

Those whose results return  positive are immediately deemed unfit for work, a public health risk and burden to the UAE which considers it public health system as an entitlement to only its nationals- the Emirati.

This policy largely affects migrant workers from Africa and Asia mostly trapped in low paying jobs for which medical insurance and private medical treatment for long term or life long diseases are unprovided.

The UAE like other Arab countries that make the Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC), screens and routinely tests migrants for HIV and other transmissible diseases before employment or resident permits are issued or renewed.

The UAE has increasingly come under criticism from Human Rights Organisation for expelling HIV positive workers who are suddenly deemed undesirable, unfit for work and a burden to the UAE because of an HIV and other transmittable diseases diagnoses.

As most migrant workers from Africa and Asia end up doing the low skilled jobs in the UAE, their nationals that test positive for HIV in the UAE, are the ones that predominately get deported.

Their low wages and salaries do not have medical insurance for such long term and life-long diseases.

Below is the link to an audio interview with Yasin Kakande

 

 

 

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