A significant US protection contractor has didn’t return the physique of a migrant employee who died below unexplained circumstances on the British-owned island of Diego Garcia greater than a month in the past, British authorities mentioned. observer to be taught.
Saddam Ali died after a brief sickness on October 18, on the secret joint British-American army base within the distant British Abroad Territory within the Indian Ocean. His household claims that KBR – Ali’s employer – failed to offer ample medical help to the 33-year-old Indian man, maintaining him on the base, which doesn’t have At the hospital level Facility.
Greater than 1,000 migrant staff have been employed to work for KBR – the principle Pentagon contractor that helped construct Guantanamo Bay in Cuba – on the army base that the UK has leased to the US because the Sixties.
Diego Garcia Atoll enjoys a strategic location and is of nice significance to American pursuits, as it’s positioned throughout the scope of East Africa, the Center East and Asia. Nonetheless, the therapy of migrant staff at its intensive army base has turn into a rising concern.
It was KBR’s accountability to evacuate Saddam for higher therapy. “They need to have taken instant motion to evacuate him,” mentioned Dr. Junaid Al-Hassan, his cousin. “They do not present any details about why they do not do it.”
In a press release by L observer“We reported Saddam ailing on Monday, October 16, and we transferred him to naval docs and known as in a medical evacuation for him on the identical day,” KBR mentioned.
Nonetheless, Hassan and three KBR staff declare that Ali’s physique remains to be in Diego Garcia, a part of the Chagos Islands archipelago. “They advised us they’d organize (a medical evacuation), however it was not organized in any respect,” Hassan mentioned.
KBR advised the household that Ali, who didn’t have any underlying well being circumstances, developed a fever and died of a coronary heart assault. They weren’t supplied with another particulars about the reason for his loss of life. Final night time the protection contractor mentioned Ali “handed by earlier than (the medical evacuation) arrived.”
Questions on potential mishandling of Ali’s medical care come amid allegations that KBR is “mistreating” its immigrant workforce on the base. The investigation was launched by order of a senior Royal Navy officer, after British officers suspected KBR of recruiting undocumented staff to work on the army base.
Final November, KBR transferred three Filipino males, aged 36, 40 and 49, to the small British territory from Dubai, the place they had been believed to be working illegally on vacationer visas, in accordance with two KBR workers.
In a press release, a Overseas, Commonwealth and Improvement Workplace (FCDO) spokesperson mentioned: “The UK authorities and the administration of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT) take any allegations of compelled labor or human trafficking very critically.”
A State Division spokesman mentioned its investigations concluded that the boys entered Diego Garcia legally however requested it observer To withhold the names of British officers concerned within the investigation. It’s understood that the three Filipinos are nonetheless working on the base.
KBR, a former subsidiary of controversial oil companies large Halliburton, which was run by Dick Cheney for 5 years earlier than turning into US vp, has refuted allegations that it recruited undocumented staff and denied holding a State Division investigation.
“In late 2022, three correctly documented workers arrived on the island with out taking their papers with them,” the spokesperson mentioned. “BIOT requested us to look into this matter, and we particularly understood on the time that the three workers could have merely forgotten their paperwork.”
Nonetheless, Dr. Maruga Asis, director of the Scalabrini Immigration Heart in Manila, Philippines, mentioned: “For these staff who’re positioned in Dubai after which transfer to Diego Garcia, it is rather probably that they may turn into very susceptible. The safety that the Philippine authorities can present them can To be very restricted.
KBR, also referred to as Kellogg Brown & Root, is the prime contractor for the army base positioned within the Chagos Islands. The Chagos Islanders had been forcefully eliminated to make method for the Diego Garcia base and have spent the previous 5 many years in exile in Mauritius, Seychelles and the UK.
KBR has held the most important operational help companies contract for the army base since 2017, offering companies together with services administration and data expertise. the observer He interviewed 14 present and former KBR workers in Diego Garcia and reviewed paperwork similar to payrolls, employment contracts, images, KBR presentation slides, and communications.
All interviewees requested anonymity. They declare there’s a tradition of concern on the base, with managers telling workers there’s a zero-tolerance coverage for staff talking out.
“KBR at all times makes us afraid about this, we have to work to help our households,” Maggie* mentioned. “They at all times say they’ll terminate our jobs.”
KBR employed the employees after experiencing transient recruitment issues when the Philippine authorities banned Filipinos from touring to Diego Garcia to work for KBR until they may show they’d earn greater than the US minimal wage.
In October 2021, the Philippine authorities required firms in Diego Garcia to pay their Filipino staff the US federal minimal wage of $7.25 (£5.98) per hour. Different contractors on the bottom complied with this request, however KBR didn’t, elevating tensions with its workers and the federal government.
The Philippine authorities points common warnings in opposition to unlicensed recruitment firms hiring its residents, noting that they threat falling sufferer to human trafficking schemes and “unfair working circumstances.”
“KBR is attempting to keep away from hiring Filipinos from the Philippines as a result of they should pay the minimal wage. If these staff don’t have correct documentation, it’s human trafficking,” mentioned John*, a former KBR worker who resigned earlier this 12 months.
Because the Philippine authorities prohibits staff from touring to Diego Garcia, staff can not go house for the vacations and say they’re compelled to decide on between their work and seeing their kids.
“We’re drained and exhausted,” mentioned Maggie, a mom who has not seen her younger kids in additional than 4 years as a consequence of a dispute over wage. “What KBR is doing to us is inhumane.”
To treatment employment issues, the British authorities not too long ago agreed to make use of restricted numbers of Indian and Kenyan staff. Nonetheless, three Indian staff declare they had been misled in regards to the salaries they’d be paid, claiming they had been employed in mid-2022 on a wage of $800 a month, which was then decreased to about $500 a month when their annual contracts had been renewed this 12 months. .
“The HR director mentioned if you wish to work, the wage is $500; Should you do not wish to work, come again. “Lots of people have give up,” mentioned Rohan*, an Indian employee in his 20s.
A small group of workers in Mauritius additionally declare that their compensation packages had been not too long ago decreased by nearly half, with one employee claiming that KBR acknowledged that it was deducting a meal allowance of $300 per 30 days from them.
This meal allowance was written into job provide letters as a part of the payroll compensation bundle supplied to staff, in accordance with paperwork I’ve seen. observer.
“Now we have since invested in culturally applicable meals for non-Filipino workers. Accordingly, when these workers’ contracts expire, we make it clear that the brand new contracts will present free meals in lieu of meals stipends in the event that they wish to proceed engaged on the island.”
“KBR pays its workers Diego Garcia’s authorized compensation and offers good and protected working circumstances. Our Filipino workers select to work for us for that reason,” the spokesperson added.
The employees declare that British and American forces on the base are conscious of KBR’s wage scenario.
Assis added: “The UK and US governments should take motion. The entrance finish of those army bases is British and American, however behind that’s a military of staff from growing international locations who do numerous work, however who’s answerable for them?
KBR has been holding conferences with its Filipino workers in regards to the scenario, with one slide of the assembly displaying the corporate claiming the Philippine authorities is “utilizing a misplaced idea that Diego Garcia is a US territory,” and that “a US minimal wage cost could be $235.” % Wage enhance”.
A KBR spokesperson advised… observer That the whole compensation awarded to the Filipino workforce exceeds the hourly charge mandated by the Philippine authorities “when housing, meals, medical protection and different advantages are included.”
*Names have been modified to guard their identities.