ABU DHABI: The Washington Post has revealed in a report that thousands of migrant children in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) go without schooling and healthcare.
Many of the children are without birth certificates because they were born without married parents because their families could not pay hospital bills, or for other reasons, the news report said on Sunday, quoting residents.
“My sons have not been to school; they don’t have a visa or a passport. It is a very big issue. They cry they really want to go to school,” Chinwe, an immigrant who could not pay a $16,000 medical bill, told the newspaper.
Foreigners outnumber locals nearly nine to one in the UAE, the vast majority of them being low-paid workers from underdeveloped countries.
Babies of single mothers are largely refused birth certificates although premarital sex has been recently legalised in the Gulf country.
According to the report, two senior Philippine government officials said that just within the country’s Filipino migrant community, the number of undocumented children runs in the thousands.
High lifestyle standards, private education, and medical care are enjoyed by the country’s citizens and white-collar immigrant employees in the oil-rich Gulf state, which is one of the world’s top wealthiest countries per capita.
The country’s labour sponsorship system, which employs millions of low-paid workers from Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia, is also problematic, the news report said.
The system has long drawn accusations of mistreatment for failing to ensure fair wages, hours, and living conditions as well as labour abuses.
“I lost everything and have nothing,” Pearl, a Filipina restaurant worker, who gave birth to a daughter last March, told The Washington Post.
Pearl said the baby was premature, and the bill for her two-month stay in the neonatal intensive care unit amounted to $29,000, more than three years’ pay.