Coronavirus: Charity workers and Dubai Police come to aid of group sleeping in Deira park

Most of the group want to continue to search for jobs in the UAE

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 9 APRIL 2020. 
A park by Dubai Creek on Baniyas street.
The park has become home to  tens who have lost their jobs and have nowhere to go with COVID shutdowns.
(Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)

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Charity workers and Dubai Police have come to the aid of a group of more than 20 homeless men found sleeping in a park in Deira.

Most of the men from Nigeria, Uganda, Pakistan, India, Kenya and Iran have visas valid until August 18 and are keen to find work in the UAE.

At least two hope to return to their home countries of Nigeria and Pakistan.

Dar Al Ber Society, a government-established charity, is providing the men with much-needed food and clothing and supporting their efforts to secure work and accommodation.

“We are giving them lunch and dinner and trying to see what best can be done for them,” said Juhi Khan from the community service section of the organisation.

I still have hope, I believe I will get a job and where there is dream there is hope

Details of some men with valid work visas have been forwarded to a company in Ajman looking for staff.

“We will also provide them with clothes, shoes and luggage they need to store their belongings since some of them don’t have bags.  Once flights are available to their home countries we are hopeful arrangements can be made for them to go home.”

Accommodation is being arranged for 12 men from Nigeria, five from Uganda, three from Pakistan, two from India, one each from Iran and Kenya.

The Dubai Police said it aimed to protect and provide relief to all.

“We will continuously work to ensure that all of the people in Dubai are safe and sound under any circumstance,” a Dubai Police spokeswoman said.

“In an effort to contain the virus, the UAE announced a lockdown that commenced in mid-March 2020. These measures, that have also taken place globally, affected many travellers and individuals."

The men who slept in the Deira park have worked in Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Abu Dhabi in jobs ranging from construction workers to part-time labour since last year.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 9 APRIL 2020. 
A park by Dubai Creek on Baniyas street.
The park has become home to  tens who have lost their jobs and have nowhere to go with COVID shutdowns.
(Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)

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DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 9 APRIL 2020. A park by Dubai Creek on Baniyas street. The park has become home to tens who have lost their jobs and have nowhere to go with COVID shutdowns. (Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National) Reporter: Section:

They want to continue to look for work to make up for between Dh8,000 to Dh10,000 they paid for flights and to agents who promised them jobs in the UAE.

"I will be so grateful if anyone helps me to go home to Nigeria because I have no money left," said Emmanuel Igboke, 27, whose tourist visa expired in December last year. In line with new  amnesty rules, his visa is valid until August 18.

“We have been sleeping outside for a long time but it is now getting very hot. People give us food to eat and we thank Allah for this. But I need to go home.”

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES. 2 JUNE 2020. 
A man wakes his friend up in a park by Baniyas street in Deira. 
This park now homes around 20 people who have nowhere to stay, and no means to sustain themselves.

(Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)

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A man wakes up his friend in a park off Baniyas street in Deira where a group of about 25 have taken refuge. Reem Mohammed/The National

Most men like Mr Igboke say agents duped them promising jobs that would pay Dh4,000 in the UAE.

They worked in part-time construction, cleaning and maintenance jobs that have dried up since the coronavirus outbreak.

His compatriot Tope Odewabi hopes to find a job before August.

“I still have hope, I believe I will get a job and where there is dream there is hope,” said the 39-year-old father of two who taught math to schoolchildren in Lagos, Nigeria.

After his three-month UAE visit visa  expired, he came to Dubai looking for work after he could no longer afford Dh400 for a bed in a Sharjah accommodation.

“I can do any work. I need a job before I go back to my family because I have spent a lot of money to come here.

"I haven’t been able to get a proper job since the coronavirus issue started after I came to the UAE. As a father I must provide for my family so I want to get a job before I go home.”

Kenyan Joseph Gichuhi, 23, worked as a loader in a logistics company since July last year.

His visa was cancelled in February and he hopes to find a job before the August 18 cut-off date to return home.

“My company cancelled my job because of the corona situation and I could not stay in the accommodation so I had to live outside,” he said.

“I need to support my mother and brother and I can work hard.”

The Dubai Police and Dar Al Ber had earlier helped repatriate a group of men from Ghana who were unemployed and homeless.

Police said it endeavoured to assist all including the 25 Ghanaian visitors unable to return home due to closure of airports in their country.

“The Dubai Police provided these individuals with shelter at the Hind Humanitarian City, food, clothes, and all other necessary requirements and services to ensure their wellbeing until they are able to return home,” the police spokeswoman said.

Additional reporting by Salam Al Amir