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3 Apr 2020

Outreach to companies on COVID-19 regarding the protection of migrant workers in Qatar and the UAE

Read our briefing

In early March reports emerged of a sudden jump in the number of confirmed cases of Covid-19 among migrant construction workers quarantined in a labour camp in Qatar. The Qatari government responded by locking down camps 1 to 32. An outbreak in these labour camps should not have been a surprise. Migrant workers to Gulf countries, largely from the global south (including Nepal, India, Bangladesh, and Kenya), live in tightly packed labour camps, often in unsanitary conditions, some without access to running water.

We asked 14 international construction companies operating in the Gulf as well as FIFA and the Supreme Committee, to outline the steps they are taking to protect workers in their response to the COVID-19 pandemic; this briefing note summarises seven company responses and the responses of FIFA and the Supreme Committee. The questions we asked can be accessed here.

Company responses have revealed that while many companies are taking extensive steps to prevent the spread of the virus with awarenes-raising and hygiene programmes, further vital action is required from both construction companies and governments to ensure the safety of workers both in the camps and on site. In particular, we are calling for urgent changes to worker accommodation to allow social distancing and for assurances workers who cannot work will still be paid. All materials relating to the briefing can be accessed here.