The Maldives is famously known across the globe for its crystal clear waters and pearl sandy beaches. It is an ideal vacation destination for many travelers, with it often being called as the “Paradise on Earth”.
However just as every rose has its thorns, the Maldives also has its fair share of negative news coverage across the world. Reports from US State Department and various international human rights organizations has indicated that the country is facing a huge crisis with regards to its migrant worker population. Particularly, the inhumane treatment of workers and the vast human trafficking of workers has been heavily criticized by many international organizations.
Today, the country is battling the COVID-19 pandemic just like most other countries in the region. Maldives has reported over a 1000 COVID-19 cases, with most of them being migrant workers from various countries. The majority of them are from the neighboring Bangladesh.
With a community spread of COVID-19 being confirmed in Malè City, an action which authorities took to curb the spread was to place Malè, Hulhumalè and Villimalè under a lockdown. When the decision of the lockdown was announced, many feared that a vast number of migrant workers would suffer heavily in the situation, with many of them currently being undocumented laborers. Unfortunately, their fear had turned out to be the reality.
Various posts have been surfacing on social media, revealing the harsh conditions which many migrant workers in the Maldives are currently battling. One tweet which was posted recently showed a migrant worker sitting at an open air space and crying, while it was raining.
Another tweet revealed a story about how a Bangladeshi working as a Security Guard at a resort was laid off by his employer, making it almost impossible for him to survive without any money on his hand. The local who tweeted this story had brought the Bangladeshi a week’s worth of supplies.
It is notable that even while the Maldives has a bad reputation internationally due to issues of migrant workers, there are many locals who are helping a lot of migrant workers in need of urgent help during this lockdown. NGOs such as Maldives Red Cresent and its volunteers has done much to ease the harsh conditions of many workers, facilitating them with access to food supplies and arranging their transfer to better shelters.
While the whole nation is currently battling against the pandemic, we must also not forget that there are many migrant workers in Malè City and in various parts of the Maldives who are suffering heavily in this situation. Our humanity and helping hand should not be based on nationality, race, religion or ethnicity. COVID-19 and its impacts are universal, knowing no boundaries. Let’s lend a helping hand to all those in need. Together, we will rise stronger than ever from this crisis.