Hundreds of Kashmiris desperately want to return home from Dubai due to their grievances, a local community group set up to help COVID-19 victims from the Gulf has said.
The Kashmiri community belonging to Pakistan known as Chinar COVID-19 Committee, has overseen the repatriation of many of their countrymen and spoken out about their plight.
Around 800 stranded Kashmiris have been repatriated from Dubai to Pakistan since the process of evacuation began in April, according to local media sources. Their plight was discussed in a meeting between the Consul General of Pakistan to Dubai Ahmed Amjad Ali and the Kashmiri diaspora community in the UAE.
Talking with the Kashmiris in Pakistan, Ali acknowledged the suffering of the community and pledged to provide support in repatriating destitute Kashmiris residing in Dubai and northern Emirates. Their repatriation has been overseen by Chinar COVID-19 Committee, which has arranged chartered plane with help of the government of Azad Kashmir.
The organisation has also provided recent arrivals from Dubai food packets as well as residence to a number of destitute migrant workers.
In addition to the 800 Kashmiris that have already left the Emirates, a further 200 are said to be “desperately” wanting to return home from Dubai “due to their grievances”, the President of Chinar COVID-19 Committee said.
A request has been made to the Pakistani Consul General “to repatriate these destitute Kashmiris as soon as possible.”
Migrant workers from Kashmir have been a cheap source of labour to the UAE. They often live in poor conditions that are ideal for the spread of the coronavirus. When the UAE imposed a lockdown to contain the spread of the virus, many of the migrant workers tried desperately to leave.
The plight of many Pakistani workers in April highlighted how thousands of foreign labourers in the Gulf were left stranded due to the lack of flights. Islamabad began to increase repatriation some weeks later, a response that seemed to have been prompted by a warning from Abu Dhabi that it would review its relations with countries that refuse to evacuate their citizens.
In May the national security adviser to Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said that half of migrant workers returning from the UAE were infected with COVID-19.
The economy of Dubai has been hit hard by the coronavirus. A survey conducted by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) revealed that 70 per cent of the companies operating in city will suspend their activities within the next six months, due to the pandemic.