February 1999 Volume 6 Number 2
Israel. Some 46,020 immigrants arrived in Israel from the ex-USSR in 1998, down from 54,621 in 1997, bringing the total to 750,000 since 1989. But economic difficulties in Russia did not lead to the upsurge in emigration that many predicted.
The newspaper Haaretz reported on January 21 that the organization of Israeli collective farms cheated immigrant Thai workers out of millions of dollars over the past five years. The collective farms have a monopoly on bringing Thai laborers into Israel; since 1994, they have brought 50,000 Thai workers into the country.
According to the Haaretz report, the workers pay the Moshav Movement $450 to pay for their return air ticket home, which costs Moshav $370. Workers also pay another $240 to a company set up by the Moshav to provide emergency assistance to the workers, based on $10 per month over a two-year period. Since the average Thai worker stays in Israel only 18 months, the Moshav collects $60. The paper estimated that, over the past five years, the Moshav Movement has collected an extra $140 from each of the more than 50,000 Thai laborers, or about $8 million.
Iran. The number of work permits issued to foreigners in Iran has been decreasing over the past several years. Between March 1997 and 1998 some 9,781 work permits were issued, down sharply from 18,408 in 1992-93. About 46 percent of the foreigners in Iran in 1997-98 were employed in the private sector, 42 percent were engaged in development projects and 11 percent had jobs in the government organizations.
In 1998, Iran had 2,039,359 foreigners, of which 1,414,649 were Afghan citizens and 579,200 were from Iraq.
UAE. United Arab Emirates officials estimate that about 1,000 migrants from central and south Asia tried to enter the nation illegally during the month of Ramadan. Most of those caught were Afghans or Pakistanis.
"UAE popular migrant destination in Ramadan," BBC news Service, January 21, 1999. "Israeli Farmers Stealing Millions from Thai Immigrant Workers," Asia Intelligence Wire, January 22, 1998. "Fewer work permits granted to foreign nationals," IRNA, January 16, 1999.