Emergency fund to help travel ban victims
Manama, November 24, 2013
By Frances Leate
Concerned expatriates have set up an emergency fund to help people stranded in Bahrain because of travel bans.
Several residents were moved to action after reading about the plight of a 49-year-old British man, who became destitute after losing his job in 2009, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
Like hundreds of others, he fell into debt and found himself subject to a controversial travel ban, where a hold is put on a person's passport and they are unable to leave the country.
Because of the ban, individuals often have problems finding a new job as they can only work within Bahrain and sometimes new employers cannot secure a work visa for them.
The GDN reported last week that the British national has been living hand to mouth with fishermen in Muharraq for the past four years, collecting cans to recycle for a few dinars a day.
His dad is now terminally ill in a UK hospital and the expat is desperate to return home to see him.
"When I read the story to my mother we were both very moved by it. It is an absolutely dreadful situation and things need to change," said Briton Val Brown.
"We want to help this man clear his debt so he can return home to his father before it is too late.
"It appears that he is very keen to find work to pay off his debt, see his dying father and get his life back together.
"I am sure there are thousands of Brits, plus other nationalities, who would like to pitch in with a donation and help this man, and others, out of this situation.
"As the festive season is shortly upon us and we are all planning celebrations involving parties, excessive food and gifts, I think the time is right to ask people to donate a few dinars to a desperate cause."
Donations are being collected by St Christopher's Cathedral Reverend Chris Butt.
He told the GDN he has received several calls from people in similar situations in recent weeks, and urged authorities to find a long-term solution to the problem.
"The whole issue of travel bans needs to be addressed because people are finding themselves in a tragic cycle where they fall into debt and have no way of working their way out of it," he said.
"While the fund can help in the short-term, we need to see a long-term change."
The 49-year-old man, who wished not to be named, said he was grateful for the support and he hoped the money could also be used to help others with travel bans imposed on them due to financial reasons.
He is currently in discussions with a number of his debtors about the possibility of reducing his debt. To donate cash, visit the cathedral office from 9am to 12.30 pm, while cheques can be presented to the Bahrain Anglican Church Council. - TradeArabia News Service