Bahrain fire victims to receive payout
Manama, May 29, 2012
Relatives of 10 men who died in a fire at a makeshift labour accommodation on Sunday in Bahrain are entitled to compensation under a Bangladeshi government scheme, said a top official.
Each victim's family will receive BD1,000 ($2,654) since they all travelled to Bahrain on legitimate work visas, Bangladesh Embassy First Secretary Mohammed Ebrahim told our sister publication the Gulf Daily News.
He said the fact that they either overstayed their visas or ran away from their employers would not prevent their relatives from collecting the cash.
"These workers came on a valid Bahraini work visa through legal channels, but because of some reasons their status changed and they overstayed or became irregular," he explained.
He said money was also being raised by members of the Bangladeshi community.
"We will send some money collected through donations when their bodies are repatriated to Bangladesh," added Ebrahim, who visited the scene of the tragedy on Sunday.
The workers were living in two rooms of a property in East Riffa and suffocated after fire broke out near the entrance.
Ebrahim said the men's fingerprints had been taken to verify their identities at the Labour Market Regulatory Authority.
The embassy is preparing to repatriate the bodies to the Comilla district in Bangladesh once the paperwork is complete.
Ebrahim raised the alarm over poor living conditions in Bahrain, saying the accommodation where the fire broke out was not the worst he had seen.
"This is a tragedy and I have been through labour accommodation worst than this flat, especially in parts of old Manama where workers are crammed in rooms," he added. "It is a big problem for us no doubt and also for other nationalities such as Indians, Pakistanis and Sri Lankans. Many are low-income workers ready to save every dinar they earn to send it to their families."
Ebrahim revealed the embassy was now planning campaigns in areas where many Bangladeshis live, raising awareness of safety at labour accommodation.
Indian Community Relief Fund chairman John Iype said his organisation was also planning safety lectures in the coming weeks at labour camps.
"We are planning to hold awareness talks at labour accommodations to create awareness among workers about their living conditions and their safety," he said. "This becomes imperative because of humid conditions and workers living in old houses."
Meanwhile, Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) senior member Dr Abdulla Al Deerazi called on authorities to beef up the number of safety inspectors.
"We have rules and regulations in place, but it is their implementation which is a problem," he said. "The ministry did a good job in banning transportation of workers in open trucks and with the same strict approach it should come down heavily on those who rent out old houses (to workers)." – TradeArabia News Service
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