Closely linked with the Bedouin people - which were renowned for their hospitality - the Kafala system emerged in the 1950s as the economy of newly oil rich Arab states boomed. In most cases and destination countries the sponsorship system migration to the Gulf Coordination Council as well as Lebanon and Jordan is limited to the Kafala system. In the Kafala system instead of dealing with government authorities and agencies, workers are tied to their employers for immensely important issues related to status of migrants, returning to one's parent country and seeking redress for injustice that may occur during the employment of a particular migrant worker. The Kafala system is usually associated with rights abuse as well as discrimination based on race and gender.
Ethiopians - especially Ethiopian women - are one of the constant contributors to the workforce demand in most of these Gulf States. Usually from rural areas every year thousands of Ethiopian migrant workers travel legally and illegally to the Gulf states in search of better opportunities and monetary compensation. Driven by poverty and fueled by a misrepresentation of realities by returning migrants, every year thousands of domestic migrant workers travel to the Arab states with minimal experience with traveling abroad to join a system designed to give employers disproportional authority over them.
The following human rights report is prepared by Addis Zeybe’s Research and Development Department with the aim of exploring the normative realities of the violation of rights of migrant workers in the Gulf. It includes discussion with migration experts, researchers, authors, academicians, legal professionals and civil society working on the issue of migration and returnees. The discussion with these professionals as well as an in depth literature review conducted by the researchers has revealed several normative violations of human rights and a lack of sufficient local or international mechanisms of protection for these migrants. Click the link below to download and read the report.