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Extending social protection to migrant workers in the Gulf

Image credit:Antony Robbins

In spite of the international principles and standards framework, both the de-jure/legal and de-facto/effective social protection coverage of international migrant workers remain low. Migrant workers worldwide face several challenges and barriers in accessing social protection, including restrictive and discriminatory legislation, a lack of specific social security agreements concerning migrant workers or non-ratification of existing conventions, and administrative and practical barriers. The challenges of extending social protection to migrant workers are particularly evident in the countries of the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf (GCC). While there are mature social insurance schemes in place, the vast majority of migrant workers (from South Asia and South-East Asia) largely excluded from government schemes.

The overall objective of this project led by the International Labour Organisation (ILO)’s Arab Office is to provide inputs that will contribute to extending social protection access to migrant workers in GCC. It will do so by increasing the state of knowledge of existing coverage and levels of accessibility, facilitating dialogue between stakeholders and providing insights into potential policy reforms.

This project will contribute a comprehensive regional mapping of the existing social protection mechanisms and migrants’ legal and effective coverage in GCC countries, and in-depth analysis for specific case studies. Moreover, it will produce research amongst Nepali migrants, who have recently returned from the GCC, to measure effective access to social protection and to better understand their willingness to participate in contributory social protection schemes.

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