Dubai, May 3 (efe-epa).- Around 60,000 Pakistanis have been stranded in the United Arab of Emirates due to the coronavirus crisis, a diplomatic source announced on Sunday.
Among the Pakistani citizens stuck in the UAE are people whose visa have expired, who have been laid off or are currently on paid leave, the Pakistan’s consul general in the UAE, Ahmed Amjad Ali, said.
“There are also … pregnant women, emergency cases and students,” Ali added in a video.
State-run Pakistan International Airlines will begin to issue flight tickets for those who have applied to leave the country.
A month ago, the diplomat estimated that 20,000 people were waiting to return to Pakistan out of the nearly 1.6 million Pakistanis living in the UAE, which has less than 10 million citizens.
On 21 March, Pakistan suspended international flights, stranding tens of thousands in the UAE, where they represent a large share of the labor force, along with other nationalities, including Indians.
For decades, the UAE and fellow Gulf countries have depended on low-wage expat workers to augment the local labor force in industry, construction and retail.
Gulf counties like Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the UAE and Qatar had attracted millions more foreign workers following oil discoveries, but they have lagged on protecting migrant workers’ rights.
The workers’ home countries looked the other way amid reports of deteriorating living and working conditions in favor of the steady flow of monthly remittances being injected into their economies.
After the coronavirus outbreak in March, some workers in the UAE were quarantined for two weeks as a preventive measure against the virus.
Furthermore, the Emirates’ government also announced that it is considering imposing a quota or other specific labor restrictions on workers whose countries refuse to repatriate nationals who wish to return to their homelands because of the pandemic.