Body of girl from Ethiopia lying in morgue for a month

Elias Kifle | November 8th, 2008

By Bassma Al Jandaly | Gulf News

RAS AL KHAIMAH, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – The body of a 19-year-old Ethiopian woman has been lying in the morgue here for more than a month because the sponsor and the labour agency are haggling over the responsibility of repatriating the body home, Gulf News has learned.

The sponsor and the agency who brought the girl from Ethiopia who worked as housemaid to the UAE are also refusing to pay the cost of her visa cancellation and repatriation of her body.

Alemitu Girma Hailu, who came to work for a family in Ras Al Khaimah, fell ill after a few days of her arrival due to heat stroke.

She spent two months in the hospital in coma before she died on October 9. Her body is still at the morgue waiting to be sent home.

Alemintu is the eldest daughter of poor parents who sent their daughter to work here in order to support them in their hard life.

While the mother and the father of Alemintu are waiting to receive their daughter’s body, the sponsor and the labour agency are haggling over the onus of the cost of repatriation and the cancellation of the visa.

An official from Ras Al Khaimah Naturalisation and Residency Department (RNRD) said that the ministry of interior’s law clearly states that in the event of the death of the domestic worker it is the employer’s responsibility to repatriate the body of the deceased to the home country and repatriate his or her personal effects as soon as possible, in coordination with the concerned authorities in the worker’s home country.

“The cost of visa cancellation and obtaining departure permission is not more than Dh200 and must be shared by both,” the official said.

The official who refused to be identified said that he is aware of Alemitu’s case but neither the sponsor nor the agency were cooperating in the case.

“The woman’s body has been at the morgue since October 9, and we hope to sort it out before the end of the year,” he said.

Alemintu worked only two weeks for the Arab family in Ras Al Khaimah when she was admitted to Ebrahim Bin Obaid Allah hospital in Ras Al Khaimah for heat stroke, septicaemia and pneumonia.

For repatriation the deceased will have to be embalmed at Al Maktoum Hospital in Dubai and will cost about Dh1,200.

A temporary shroud will be provided by the hospital and a simple zinc-lined coffin can be obtained for Dh1,000 (optional).

The casket will cost Dh1,000. Airlines may charge about Dh2,000. Hence the repatriation cost (without the temporary shroud) is about Dh4,500.

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