Opinion

Helpless in Jleeb

Muna Al-Fuzai

These days are difficult for everyone in light of the repercussions of the spread of the coronavirus – and indeed there are economic, social, health and security impacts. But I believe that globally, people are not equal in confronting the situation, as the suffering of people varies between those who have financial resources and those who don’t.

For example, some choose their favorite food from the best restaurants to reach their doorsteps, while others do not have the luxury of choice and may stay hungry or wait for charity. Some may live in big houses and some may not even have space for a single bed.

I believe material suffering is the most severe, because many people have lost their jobs or the companies they work for have gone bankrupt and therefore wages have stopped. There is no doubt that the suffering is enormous and devastating, especially for expatriates in dire financial situations.

I received a letter from an expat living in Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh. This area has been under a total lockdown for more than two weeks now. The letter says: Respected madam. With due respect I want to inform you that for more than 15 days we are in home quarantine and haven’t received any type of help. If we want to renew our residency, we have to pay KD 900-1,000 for two years. But in this situation, nobody asks how we spend our daily lives. Please consider us as human; we have a right to live and I hope you will publish this letter in Kuwait Times about our life in Kuwait right now.”

Firstly, I really thank this expat reader for his email. I know there are many charities providing food to residents in this area, but making sure that they get enough food is important – maybe there are children who need milk, and so on. The more the better.

Another inquiry from the same person is about the money that must be paid in order to allow him to stay in Kuwait for two years. Right now, the country is at war against trafficking in persons and is hunting human traffickers and merchants, because what they are doing is against humanity and the country’s laws.

I know this amount is usually paid to a merchant to stamp the residency for a person, but often this person does not work for this merchant and his relationship does not go beyond a name in the employment file. This is the situation which the state is now fighting, because this is human trafficking, financial corruption and abusing the rights of the worker, because the reality is that the merchant earns money and keeps the person stuck, not guaranteeing that he will find a job, especially in these times.

So I hope that you do not pay money to a human trafficker. I think that it is better for someone who finds himself in such a condition to leave for his country, and he can come back later in a legal and proper manner when things settle down.

Secondly, Jleeb Al-Shuyoukh has a large number of expatriates living in it, especially from the Asian community, and everyone knows that this area had many problems before the coronavirus outbreak occurred in terms of population, sanitation and the number of single men residing there. Over the years, the situation got worse, and lately the spread of the virus became severe and rapid. So security authorities isolated this area to ensure that the virus does not spread to other less densely-populated areas in order to examine the residents and find violators of residency laws.

Kuwait is working hard for expats of all nationalities, including those from countries that refuse to receive their own citizens and do not want them, which is something I regard as shameful, at a time when most countries insist on the return of their citizens.

Finally, I hope that this expatriate does not think that no one cares, because here in Kuwait we care for all. But this is a global pandemic that needs awareness and cooperation. For any kind of help, you can go to any security point and inform them of your need for food – I am sure that they will not hesitate to help.

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