Govt. sets up ICWF to help overseas Indian workers in distress

January 13th, 2009 - 11:29 pm ICT by ANI  

New Delhi, Jan.13 (ANI): Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs has set up the Indian Community Welfare Fund (ICWF) for the welfare of the overseas Indian workers in distress in foreign countries.
It has become operational at Indian Missions in all the 17 Emigration Clearance Required (ECR) Countries from January 1, 2009. The list of countries include the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Malaysia, Libya, Jordan, Yemen, Sudan, Afghanistan, Indonesia, Syria, Lebanon, Thailand, and Iraq.
The services provided by the ICWF will include boarding and lodging for distressed overseas Indians in household / domestic sectors and unskilled labourers; expenditure on incidentals and for airlifting the mortal remains to India or local cremation/burial of the deceased overseas Indian in such cases where a sponsor is unable or unwilling to do so as per the contract and the family is unable to meet the cost.
However, the list of services also include extending emergency medical care to the overseas Indians in need; providing air passage to stranded overseas Indians in need and providing initial legal assistance to the overseas Indians in deserving cases.
It is worth remembering that overseas Indian workers are estimated at over 5 million, with a net outflow of about a million each year excluding returnees. A significant number of overseas Indian workers are women.
The vast majority of these workers are temporary migrants and 90 percent of them work in the Gulf. These workers often face difficult living and working conditions in the host countries and they approach the Indian Missions for help.
The contingency expenditure incurred by the Indian Missions abroad for carrying out these welfare activities will be met by Ministry of Overseas Indian Affairs (MOIA).
The MOIA will provide the budgetary support for the Fund which will be in proportion to the size of Indian workforce subject to a maximum of Rs. 1500,000 each for Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, Kuwait, UAE, Bahrain and Malaysia.
For the remaining 10 ECR countries, an amount of Rs. Five lakh each will be granted.
The MOIA contribution will be initially for three years or till the period the Fund becomes self sustaining whichever is earlier.
The other sources of funding of ICWF will be from funds raised by the Indian Missions by levying a service charge on consular services and voluntary contribution by Indian community. The Heads of Missions are authorized to administer the Fund.
They may decide releasing financial assistance based on merits of each case received by them.
There have been a large number of cases of Indian workers not being taken care of by their sponsors / employers and seeking assistance from the Indian Missions. I
In order to look after the welfare of such workers, until such time their problems are solved, expenditure is required to be incurred on food, shelter, attestation of legal documents for death compensation and occasional hiring of casual staff as caretakers to look after their welfare. (ANI)

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