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Husin Bagis, Indonesia’s ambassador to the UAE. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The Indonesian Embassy in Abu Dhabi has warned its people against misusing visit visas to take up domestic jobs as it can land them in serious trouble.

Speaking to Gulf News in an exclusive interview, Husin Bagis, Indonesian Ambassador to the UAE, said about 700 cases, mostly pertaining to domestic workers and poor monthly wages, were registered at the embassy last year. The mission currently shelters 74 women who ran away or were rescued from unscrupulous agents, he added.

He said more than 40 different types of cases are reported to the embassy each month.

In 2015, the Indonesian government banned domestic workers from working in the GCC countries. But still, many come on visit visas and take up domestic jobs.

Bagis said, “They come here through unprocedural [illegal] channels. They come on visit visas and change their residency status here. Such workers mostly hail from Indonesian villages and don’t have any knowledge of household operations. So this creates problems for them.”

Illegal agencies facilitate their travel by getting them tourist visas, and once they reach the UAE, they get residency and work in the domestic sector, he said.

The ambassador said the mission is thinking of communicating with the local authorities the possibility of sending domestic workers to the UAE through official channels, the ambassador said.

“We want to protect our domestic help here. The mission must be informed about their work contracts. We want to ensure their rights and proper salaries,” he said, noting, “Last year, the embassy handled up to 700 cases of Indonesians with unpaid or poor salaries. Currently, 74 housemaids are in a shelter house waiting for their cases to be resolved so they can be repatriated to their homes.”

He said the mission resolves its people’s issues in collaboration with local government entities. According to Bagis, the embassy spends roughly Dh3,000 to resolve the case of a single worker and send them home safely. This cost covers the air ticket, meals, medical assistance and transportation.

Around 100,000 Indonesians are currently working in the UAE, of whom around 80 per cent are in the domestic services sector, while the remaining are highly qualified professionals, including engineers, pilots and health care staff.

Although the mission had fixed their minimum monthly wage at Dh1,500 a few years back, many Indonesian who are brought in by unauthorised agents, end up with salaries of Dh800 to Dh900 which is insufficient, he added.