MORE than 5,300 calls were received from expatriates, including human trafficking victims, via a hotline (995) set up for distressed workers in Bahrain, said a report.
The US State Department report on Trafficking in Persons (TIP) 2018, released in Washington by Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, stated that the hotline operated by the National Committee to Combat Trafficking in Persons (NCCTIP) received 5,388 calls.
Most of these concerned labour rights and advice on workplace situations, among other requests.
“It was unclear how many calls constituted instances or indicators of trafficking, but officials identified one trafficking victim and investigated an unknown number of cases as a direct result of the hotline,” said the report.
The hotline aimed at collecting reports and educating workers about their rights in different languages such as in Hindi, Telugu, Sinhalese, Tamil, Urdu, Malayalam, Arabic and English.
Bahrain allocated BD200,000 last year to the NCCTIP to set up the first-of-its-kind victim assistance fund, to provide court-mandated financial grant to the alleged victims.
The budget of the committee during the reported year (April last year until March this year) was BD500,000 for operations and BD376,000 for awareness and outreach programmes.
The report also said that more than 500 expats, including human trafficking victims, were provided assistance at the Expat Protection Centre run by the LMRA.
It also said the centre located in Sehla provided 516 individuals with shelter, food, clothing, medical care, religious support, psycho-social counselling, rehabilitation, translation and repatriation, or job placement in Bahrain.
The report said the centre “continued to oversee the safe house and shelter for both male and female workers, regardless of their legal status in the country.”
Authors of the annual report said embassies of labour-sending countries reported they temporarily housed some victims who refused to go to the Sehla centre or were unable to reach it.
Other interesting points in the report mentioned awareness campaigns for local and expatriate communities in involving youth of various nationalities, schools, religious institutions, and foreign embassies.
It also backed the National Referral Mechanism to identify alleged trafficking victims, ensure proper documentation of cases and effectively refer cases to the Interior Ministry and Public Prosecutor.