GRM 2010 GRM 2011

Abstract Details

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Irregular Migration in Qatar
Paper Proposal Text :
Little is understood regarding the extent and circumstances of irregular migrant workers in Qatar. The system and means of entry into Qatar is highly securitized and there is no contemporary evidence that foreigners (seeking work or asylum) enter illegally, or are smuggled into the country in surreptitious ways – neither from its shores on the Arabian sea, nor through Saudi Arabia, its only land border. Although statistics are unavailable, qualitative evidence shows that irregular migration does exist, mainly through the sale of so-called ‘free visas’ that originate through the visa quota system, or from visitor or tourist visas. Other forms of irregularity arise from the mismatch of the job specification on the visa and the actual work being undertaken; arrival in the country to find there is no employer; ‘absconding’ from employers; and being left stranded by an employer due to business failure or canceling of contracts. It is argued that the root cause of most irregular migrant workers in Qatar is the payment by prospective migrant workers for ‘free’ work visas where they may or may not know that there is no immediate employment at their destination. This visa quota system needs to be abolished and the culture of extortion and bribery that is financially borne by the poorest low-skilled workers requires not only legislative change in both origin and destination countries, but also widespread education. While reform is underway in Qatar, this can only be achieved by international bilateral or multilateral agreements to seriously reform the current labor recruitment system. Simultaneously, there is a need to establish an accreditation program for ‘ethical’ labor recruitment agencies as preferred labor suppliers throughout the labor supply chains of all organizations doing business in Qatar. This will assist with corporate due diligence requirements both within Qatar and abroad.