Fake job offers in UAE leave over 300 Indian nurses stranded
After staying in dormitories in Deira, scamsters shifted many to Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, and Umm Al Quwain.
A large group of nurses from Kerala, who arrived here on visit visas on the pretext of working in vaccination centres, are now stranded in Emirates across the UAE.
Several stranded nurses and social workers assisting them said at least 300 such nurses are stuck in the UAE after job agents in Kerala lured them with high salaries and other job perks.
While many nurses are finding jobs after approaching medical institutions and hospitals, many are in a desperate state as they have taken huge loans from banks back home to make the trip to the UAE. After staying in dormitories in Deira, scamsters shifted many to Ras Al Khaimah, Ajman, and Umm Al Quwain. Khaleej Times tried to reach out to agents using numbers provided by the nurses, however, all were phone numbers were either switched off or unreachable.
To assist stranded nurses, the Consulate General of India in Dubai told Khaleej Times that Embassy and the Consulate are in touch with various community associations based in the UAE to identify and extend help to any Indian national who approaches their specific request. "So far, the Consulate has not received any requests to repatriate Indian nurses," stated a statement from the mission.
The nurses Khaleej Times reached out to said they had paid approximately Dh 12,000 to agents in Kerala. While many are desperately seeking jobs in hospitals in the UAE, two nurses have sent a letter to the Chief Minister of Kerala Pinarayi Vijayan seeking justice.
Reena Rajan, a nurse from Pattazhi in the Kollam district, said, "I arrived in Dubai months ago. I have been working in private hospitals in Kollam for nine years. When this opportunity arose, I quit my job and signed a contract with an Ernakulam-based agency called Take Off and paid them INR 235,000." Married with a three-year-old son who is being cared for by his father back home, Reena does not want to return to India empty-handed.
"I was told there are jobs for nurses in Covid-19 vaccination and testing centres," said Reena. When she got to Dubai, the situation was not as she imagined it would be. "We stayed in a dorm with 14 other women. The agents told us for the first month; we have to stay in quarantine," she explained. After several weeks of waiting, the nurses realised they are trapped in a fraudulent operation.
"End of April, the agents said there are no vacancies, and they asked us to work in-home care, with no other detail provided. When we refused, they began using threatening tones. That's when we left the apartment in Deira," she explained. Reena added, "There were many others like us in various in the apartment complex in Deira. Each room had 14-15 nurses."
Reena and another nurse Susan Saji, also from Pattazhi in Kollam, moved to Reena's brother's house in Fujairah. "Our families have been going to the agents in Kerala demanding our money back from them. However, they have been playing delay tactics," said Reena.
Dubai-based social worker Kiran Raveendran told Khaleej Times the nurses began arriving here at the beginning of October - November last year. "I got the first distress call in October - November of last year. This is an ongoing scam. While many nurses who arrive from India are getting jobs in the UAE, many are also staying here in a helpless state."
Raveendran said, "There was a need for nurses in the UAE. Jobs were available, and many of those who arrived found them on their merit. However, many have been unable to and are stuck here. Going back is not an option for many as they have huge financial commitments back home." Agents lured them with prospective jobs in Covid-19 testing and vaccination centres.
"Many are fearful of the authorities as well. The local agents have taken advantage of their innocence. In some cases, they were charged Dh 250 for a SIM card from the airport, usually provided for free. Some paid Dh 600 for food for 25 days," explained Raveendran.
Seena, mom to a two-year-old boy, said, "I worked in Max Hospital in Delhi. I resigned from that job to come here. I've worked in Mangalore City Hospital and NTC Hospital in Chennai as well. We have good job experience." Seena added, "Going back is not an option. I spent INR 235,000 to come here. We took a bank loan; how are we supposed to pay the loan if we go back." The nurses received a response to the letter sent by the nurses to the Kerala CM. "They have told us the Ernakulam DGP is investigating the matter," added Reena.
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