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CHALLENGES AND COPING STRATEGIES OF LABOUR MIGRANTS FROM THE HORN OF AFRICA IN THE ARAB WORLD: THE ERITREAN CASE [Abstract ID: 1002-04]
More than a million labour migrants from Horn of Africa countries, including Ethiopia, work in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states, the majority of them in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. They live under difficult conditions and are subject to the restrictions imposed by the GCC’s labour laws. The presentation will focus on Eritrean workers as a case study. Up to half of the Eritrean population is living abroad, from where it is generating one third of the national budget. There is also a significant, but little-known community residing and working in Arab countries. They are one of the longest-existing labour migrant communities in Saudi Arabia, but in contrast to the Eritrean diaspora in Western countries, we know very little about their living conditions, the problems they face in their every- day lives and about their coping strategies. Like other migrant workers from the Horn, they are subject to exploitation and to an insecure residential status. In addition, the Eritrean diplomatic missions demand the payment of a two percent diaspora tax from all Eritreans abroad. Drawing on research based on the narratives of affected labour migrants and on literature evaluation, the presentation will point out how the restrictive labour laws of the GCC countries influence the life of labour migrants from the Horn of Africa, with a focus on the plight of women, whose status is particularly vulnerable.