Qatar Facing International Condemnation For Treatment Of Migrant Workers
RIYADH: Qatar on Wednesday said 238 new coronavirus cases had been discovered among expatriates quarantined in a residential compound.
The huge jump in cases - from 24 to 262 - was announced in a health ministry statement that failed to clarify if the infected are migrant workers living in labor camps.
Qatar has faced international condemnation for its treatment of migrant workers, particularly those employed on major construction projects linked to the World Cup 2022.
Laborers recruited from poor countries like Pakistan and Nepal often live packed into camps in the desert from where they are bussed to the construction sites.
Among the many reports documenting the abuses, Amnesty International found in 2016 that workers at one of the flagship stadiums were forced to live in squalid accommodation, pay huge recruitment fees and had wages withheld and passports confiscated.
Some observers suggested Qatar’s lack of transparency over the coronavirus raised questiona about whether the infection could be going through one of the labor camps.
“Anyone know if these 238 new coronavirus cases discovered in Qatar are migrant labourers?” asked Brian Whitaker, the former Middle East editor at The Guardian newspaper. “They are described as expatriates in shared accommodation,” he added.
Qatar claims it has enacted a series of reforms to protect workers, but Amnesty said last year abuses continued and hundreds of workers were going unpaid as those reforms stalled.