In preparation for the upcoming Cop28 climate conference, migrant workers in Dubai have been subjected to treacherous working conditions. A recent probe has highlighted that many of these workers, primarily from Africa and Asia, have been braving temperatures as high as 42C (107F) in the heart of Dubai, UAE’s bustling metropolis.
FairSquare’s Revealing Investigation
A comprehensive investigation by FairSquare, an esteemed human rights advocacy group, has unearthed visual proof and firsthand accounts of these laborers working under the scorching sun. Shockingly, some of these incidents occurred during the “midday ban,” a protective UAE legislation that prohibits outdoor labor in peak summer hours due to life-threatening heat exposure risks.
One distressed worker candidly revealed, “I constantly felt headaches and dizziness. This brutal heat is simply inhumane.” Another shared the dire sentiment, stating, “Every moment outside felt like a brush with death, but our wages are paramount.”
Alarming Global Heat-Related Fatality Stats
The dangerous amalgamation of intense heat and humidity can severely hinder the body’s natural cooling process, leading to potentially deadly heatstrokes. Annually, over 5 million individuals globally succumb to temperature extremes. As the climate emergency intensifies, heat-related fatalities are witnessing an upward trajectory.
UAE’s Migrant Workforce and Cop28 Preparations
Migrant laborers constitute a staggering 90% of UAE’s private sector workforce and are entrusted with the lion’s share of manual tasks. This includes pivotal roles in orchestrating the Cop28 event, a paramount UN climate discussion expected to host dignitaries from nearly 195 nations.
However, this isn’t the first time the Gulf region has come under scrutiny for its treatment of migrant workers. Recent findings by FairSquare have exposed a grim pattern of hazardous work conditions, particularly in neighboring nations like Qatar. Here, a weekly average of twelve individuals hailing from nations like India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka tragically lost their lives between 2010 and 2022 during the World Cup infrastructure development.
Leading experts have voiced their concerns over this glaring disparity. Richard Pearshouse, an environmental stalwart at Human Rights Watch (HRW), opined, “This report is pivotal for Cop28 discussions on climate change and health. The climate catastrophe becomes especially lethal when we disregard laws and human rights.” Amali Tower, the figurehead of the non-profit Climate Refugees, rightly dubbed this as a narrative of “climate injustice.”