Coronavirus: UAE to review labor ties with countries who refuse to take back citizens

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The United Arab Emirates warned on Sunday it would review labor ties with countries refusing to take back citizens in the UAE, including those who have lost their jobs or been put on leave, as coronavirus spreads among low-wage foreign workers throughout the Arabian Gulf.

Millions of migrant workers, mainly from Asian countries, including Nepal, India and the Philippines, are among the region’s large expatriate population. The UAE, the Arabian Gulf region’s tourism and business hub, is home to a large migrant worker population and has the second highest coronavirus tally in the region at 3,736 cases with 20 deaths.

It said one option under consideration was to impose strict quotas on work visas issued to nationals of those states.

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“Several countries have not been responsive about allowing back their citizens who have applied to return home under the current circumstances,” the Human Resources and Emiratisation Ministry said, without specifying which countries.

India’s ambassador to the UAE told the Gulf News daily on Saturday that India cannot repatriate large numbers of its nationals while trying to break the chain of infection at home.

“Once the lockdown in India is lifted, we will certainly help them get back to their home towns and their families,” Pavan Kapoor was quoted as saying.

Pakistan’s ambassador to the UAE said the embassy was waiting for permission from Islamabad for repatriation flights and was hoping for “positive news soon.”

“We are very keen to bring Pakistanis back but we need to finalize our treatment and quarantine facilities,” Ghulam Dastgir told Reuters.

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