By Manishankar Prasad
Migration Governance is back on the research agenda as refugee theatres in Africa, Maghreb, Mediterranean and South East Asia are simmering if not raging. The multilateral institutional activity with IOM, UN, WHO and the Marakkesh Declaration is encouraging with increased focus. The migration trends in the Khaleej are changing with African low wage workers from Cameroon to Kenya replacing Kerala as the manpower exporter. Many interviews with taxi drivers in the emirates have yielded the inference that African manpower is replacing the Pashtun as the preferred taxi driving talent pool. Bangladeshis are hired only as cab drivers in the UAE as there is a work visa embargo on them.
Ethiopian is a sound heard frequently as Nigerian dialects in many areas of Dubai. This is shifting the migrant support networks to the Evangelical Church groups as linguistic community groups have been the on-call support of choice for Indians. In the Permanent Transience of the Gulf, support systems are limited to a couple of friends and village groups from back home. The first response to healthcare is panadol (often called Panadol Region) then the company doctor prescribed as per the insurance. This, however, is also Foucaudian Bio-surveillance as unfit workers are prime targets during restructuring.
Too much academic literature is focused on the causes of migrant issues regarding health, emergency financing and legal access. However, very little attention is paid to groups who formally and informally deliver this last mile support.
Good Samaritan Model is often the case when salaries are delayed for months and mouths have to be fed back home. These voices of the Good Samaritans have to be recovered as these support workers in their home away from home. When I was not paid for months in my previous company, my extended family paid my bills as I looked out for my next gig. But not all are as fortunate as me.
Banglar Kantha and Bangladesh Centre Singapore of Veteran Journalist AKM Mohsin in Singapore is one platform for emergency relief. When workers are hospitalised Mohsin Bhai is there for help. He has sent back many dead workers to Dhaka over the past two decades. When diplomatic staff are faltering, the Good Samaritan’s plug the gap.
There need to be a structured research program interventions around the last mile support organisations for health for migrants including the embassy staff who help. It’s time that the spotlight is shown upon the dark knights of remittance economies in academic and practitioner research.