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Alliance highlights scandal of migrants exploited by international recruitment agencies

Posted on: September 30, 2013 2:20 PM
migrant workers at an information stand in Hong Kong where the Anglican Cathedral has a strong ministry for migrants
Photo Credit: Diocese of Hong Kong

The scandal of millions of migrants tricked into lives of servitude by multinational gangmasters is the focus for an Anglican Alliance briefing published today.

The call for a crackdown on rogue recruitment agencies comes as part of the Alliance’s five point plan which will go to a high-level UN meeting on migration in New York next month.

It comes on the day that a UK newspaper exposed gross exploitation of migrant workers from Nepal working on prestige building projects for the football World Cup finals in Qatar. The exposé identified recruitment agencies as prime culprits in the scandal: the Alliance paper calls for global regulation of these agencies.

Action to stamp out wage exploitation, physical and sexual abuse and ensure migrants have proper legal status and access to services is also in the paper produced as a follow up to the Alliance forum meeting in Kuala Lumpur which brought together Anglicans from across east and south east Asia.

Over 200 million people work as migrants – the equivalent in numbers to the fifth biggest country in the world.  The Alliance briefing notes that for many people migration is a voluntary and positive move to get higher wages and a better living standard.

“However, even voluntary migration can end in exploitation and the line between migration and trafficking is increasingly blurred,” the report says.

The five most pressing concerns for migrants identified in the briefing are:

  • Recruitment:  Unscrupulous and unregulated recruitment agents attract poor and vulnerable people, only to force them into hard labour and prostitution, charging them extortionate fees, keeping them in debt bondage.
  • Abuse: Migrant workers risk verbal, physical and sexual abuse at the hands of their employers.
  • Pay: Migrant workers struggle to survive on very low pay, and face unfair deductions from their wages.
  • Status: Migrant workers are largely undocumented and even those with permits lack many rights in their receiving country.
  • Access to Services: Migrant workers are often unable to access legal, health and social services.

The Alliance also calls for tougher enforcement of international conventions already in place. The briefing follows discussions at the Regional Forum in Kuala Lumpur in June, where global representatives from the 88-million-strong Anglican Communion stressed migration and trafficking as the gravest concern in the region. The briefing also urges Anglicans to raise awareness of this issue in their locality.

The Anglican Communion will be represented at the high-level meeting by Rachel Chardon, Marnie Dawson Carr and the Revd Catherine Graham.