A fishing boat found a Bangladeshi migrant worker stranded at sea in an alleged attempt to flee from his employers at a resort under construction on a northern island.
According to the police, the man who was not named was working on the island of Kanbaalifaru in Shaviyani Atoll as a carpenter. He was found at sea nearly two miles west of Hirubadhoo in the same atoll.
A spokesman for the Shaviyani Atoll regional hospital said the man was in good health and had been released an hour later.
Ahmed Shinan, a councilor on the island of Lhaimagu, located near Kanbaalifaru, said this was the man’s second escape attempt. He had sailed to Lhaimagu on a dinghy on Thursday, but was returned to Kanbaalifaru the next day.
“He came here on Thursday night and talked to some people he met on the harbor. I found out Kanbaalifaru had lost a worker when I ran into some people from the resort after Friday prayers. So, we asked around and found the man that evening.”
The man had complained over discrimination in wages, he said.
“At first, he told us us that he was sent to Shaviyani Atoll by mistake and that he needed to get to the capital Malé to get to the island of Fonadhoo in Laamu Atoll. Later he said that he was being paid less than another worker who was brought with him to Kanbaalifaru.”
A spokesman for Kanbaalifaru Development Company Pvt Ltd. denied allegations of mistreatment or discrimination in wages
“This to me seems like an isolated incident with one individual, I can assure you that there are no problems with salaries or even living conditions here,” Mohamed Adam Manik said, adding that others would have tried to flee if there had been any issues.
“Sometimes, migrant worker recruiting agencies lure them here with misinformation. The worker may have come expecting a certain payment, but they end up disappointed. Still, we give our carpenters a decent salary,” he said.
Some 124,000 migrant workers are believed to reside in the Maldives, including more than 30,000 undocumented workers.
In July, the Maldives was placed back on the US State Department’s tier 2 watch list for human trafficking over lack of progress in the government’s anti-human trafficking efforts. If downgraded to tier 3, the lowest tier, the Maldives may be subject to non-humanitarian and non-trade sanctions.
The 2015 Trafficking in Persons report noted that migrant workers in the Maldives experienced “forced labour, including fraudulent recruitment, confiscation of identity and travel documents, withholding or non-payment of wages, and debt bondage.”
The Maldives acceded in December to the ‘Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children,’ a protocol to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organised Crime.
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