Dubai, Aug 4 IANS | 4 months ago

As many as 14,600 calls have been received in 2013 by a hotline for Indians in distress in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), with the most being work-related complaints, media reported.

The 24-hour helpline 800-INDIA (80046342) run by the Indian Workers Resource Centre (IWRC) in Dubai offers free legal, psychological and financial counselling for Indians in the UAE, Gulf News reported Sunday.

The IWRC was established by the Indian government to handle issues pertaining to Indian workers residing in the UAE in 2010.

The Indian consulate in Dubai said most of the Indians lodged work-related complaints, while a small number of calls were related to debt problems in 2013.

The IWRC held almost 960 legal counselling sessions last year.

The helpline registered and recorded calls for possible follow-ups.

The workers were advised "in accordance with the UAE labour laws and other applicable rules", an official said.

The bulk of the callers reported contract violations, bad working conditions, harassment at work, non-payment of salaries, unauthorised retention of passport, and difficulties in obtaining release from employers.

"If counselling or legal consultation is required, an appointment is given to the caller, with date and time, to personally meet and discuss the matter further. No professional counselling is given online," the report quoted the Indian consulate in Dubai as stating.

According to the latest government figures, 37 Indian nationals committed suicide in six of the seven emirates of the UAE in the first half of 2014.

The Indian community in the UAE, numbering two million, constitutes around 25 percent of the Gulf nation's total population.

The IWRC also runs awareness campaigns at labour housing facilities to educate workers about their rights and responsibilities in the UAE.

The hotline staff can speak English, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu and Malayalam.

Besides the hotline, the consulate has a dedicated number (0507347676) for death-related formalities.

"Most importantly, the facility provides the caller an address to properly express his problem freely, without being in the constraints of an office," an official added.

(Posted on 04-08-2014)

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