Bahrain

Overview

Bahrain, together with other Gulf Countries, has a history of intra-regional overseas contract workers. These dynamics between the labour-sending and the GCC labour-receiving states continue to yield important economic benefits for involved parts including, of course, overseas contract workers. According to Bahraini government estimates, overseas workers comprise 63 per cent of the country’s work force. The promise of economic and social prosperity and employment in Bahrain is often used as a lure by traffickers to bring in workers from India, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. These workers find themselves in situations of abuse and exploitation. The government of Bahrain is aware of the complexity of the problem and it is deploying intense efforts to tackle it at different levels, including the launching of a National Plan of Action since 2002 to counter trafficking and prevent abuse of overseas workers, as well as the recent opening of a “Safe House” or shelter for abused overseas workers and victims of trafficking.

Brief History

IOM has been actively engaged with the Government of Bahrain for 15 years, working to enhance Bahrain’s migration governance, to further develop instruments to support the protection of overseas contract workers, as well as to fight and prevent trafficking. This partnership has been consolidated with the official establishment of the IOM Bahrain Country Office in March 2018. IOM Bahrain is working closely with Bahrain’s Labour Market Regulatory Authority (LMRA) on the development of a National TiP Strategy and Action Plan, scheduled to be complete September 2019. Additionally, IOM provides capacity building and thematic support to the LMRA’s Expatriates Protection Centre, its National Referral Mechanism staff, as well as the LMRA labour inspectors on the identification and protection of vulnerable migrants. 

Office

1st Floor, LMRA Expatriate Protection and Assistance Centre 

Building 1553, Road 4153, Block 441 

Northern Sehla, Kingdom of Bahrain 

Regulating Migration

IOM’s programmatic response aims to assist the country by increasing the government's capacity to further develop instruments to protect overseas contract workers, and to fight and prevent trafficking. Within this context IOM's assistance will focus on enhancing existing capacities of the government and partners of the civil society in terms of shelter management for the protection of abused workers and victims of trafficking, information campaigns, as well as training the staff of national institutions involved in overseas contract workers’ protection, counseling and assistance. A counter-trafficking capacity building intervention to complement current efforts of the Bahraini government in curbing trafficking in persons has been funded by the government of the United States of America; the project will be implemented by IOM in close coordination with the Ministry of Social Development.

Main Projects

  • Capacity Building of National Institutions on Shelter Management
  • Protection of overseas workers in Bahrain

Labour Migration and Human Development (LHD) 

From 2018-2019, International Recruitment Integrity System (IRIS) capacity building workshops for recruitment agencies are being conducted. They first took place in November 2018 with eight (8) recruitment agencies, with prospective plans to conduct additional workshops this year. Support the enhancement of the Government’s Flexi work permit, which was launched in July 2017 and allows migrant workers to sponsor themselves if they fulfil specific conditions. To date, this has included the development of a white paper outlining the main tenants of this permit.

Migrant Protection and Assistance 

Capacity building for LMRA’s Expatriate Protection Centre and National Referral Mechanism staff.

Support the development of a National TiP Strategy and Action Plan.

Capacity building workshops with LMRA labour inspectors on the identification and protection of vulnerable migrants. The first three workshops took place in 2018 with a total number of 100 participants.

Engagement with the Private Sector to introduce technology to further reduce vulnerabilities of migrant workers, specifically with regards to issues such as contract substitution.

Migration Governance and Policy 

Upcoming Regional Launch of “Migration and the 2030 Agenda: A Guide for Practitioners” with an inter-agency capacity-building workshop on mainstreaming migration into national development plans.