Media coverage re COVID-19 & Risks to Migrant Workers in Qatar & the UAE

The below articles relate to media coverage of the report World Cup & Expo 2020 Construction: COVID-19 & Risks to Migrant Workers in Qatar & the UAE.

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18 May 2020

Kuwait: 23,500 migrant workers "detained" in unsanitary & unsafe conditions under Covid amnesty

Author: Areeb Ullah, Middle East Eye

"'Like sardines': Migrant workers suffering in Kuwait's desert detention camps," 15 May 2020

Thousands of foreign workers who volunteered themselves to the Kuwaiti authorities during an amnesty for undocumented labourers have been stranded in detention camps in the desert for over a month in appalling conditions...

Unable to social distance and suffering under the heat and in unsanitary facilities, detainees... fear the spread of the coronavirus and spending more weeks in the packed, arid compounds...

the Gulf state last month promised undocumented workers that they would be allowed re-entry if they volunteered for repatriation. 

Some 23,500 migrant workers... are currently detained in four detention camps on the outskirts of Kuwait City as they wait to be repatriated...

As noted in a recent report by [BHRRC], migrant workers in the Gulf were already living in “unsanitary” and “tightly packed labour camps”.

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18 May 2020

Will global corporations take responsibility for those they have long exploited?

Author: Jay Ramasubramanyam, Open Democracy

COVID-19 was declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organisation, on March 11... among the most aggrieved are migrant workers and factory workers in the global south...

Workers... have also been forced to live in squalid conditions and are unable to practice social distancing... [they] are also unable to access healthcare and sanitation...

The pandemic has laid bare the fragility of the system that favours the interests of consumers while simultaneously failing its workers...

[BHRRC] expressed concerns in a report and demonstrated that little has been done to protect migrant workers. Construction companies have not provided workers with Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and have not guaranteed job security. The lack of protection both from Qatar and from countries of origin of many of these workers has exacerbated their already perilous conditions.

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28 April 2020

Across the world, construction workers are caught between coronavirus risk and joblessness

Author: Jennifer Hattam, Equal Times

Around the world... millions of construction workers are still on the job [during the COVID-19 pandemic], caught between risking their health and losing their livelihoods...

“Construction has been deemed an essential industry in the UAE and protections for non-citizens are being rolled back through allowances for employers to cut workers’ wages,” says Isobel Archer [BHRRC]... measures in the UAE call for obtaining the mutual consent of the employee, already-vulnerable migrant workers have little power to negotiate...

seven of 14 construction companies surveyed by BHRRC on what steps they are taking to protect migrant workers did not respond, and none of those that did had adequate plans in place.

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21 April 2020

COVID-19 lockdown leaves Gulf states’ migrant workers penniless in unsanitary conditions

Author: Jean Shaoul, World Socialist Web Site

Migrant workers in Gulf countries have been laid off without income in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic... Unable to return home because of travel restrictions... [left] in lockdown, confined to overcrowded, unsanitary dormitories without access to either health care or help...

[BHRRC] raised its “deep concern”... that most of the construction companies taking part in the survey (and only half replied) in the UAE and Qatar were not doing enough to protect their workers... work on construction sites in Qatar was continuing despite the pandemic despite the lack of personal protective equipment... Social distancing at work and in living quarters... was impossible.

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19 April 2020

Migrant workers bear brunt of coronavirus pandemic in Gulf

Author: Martin Chulov, The Guardian (UK)

Crammed into work camps, stood down from their jobs, facing high rates of infection and with no way home, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers are bearing the brunt of the coronavirus pandemic in the Middle East...

Ryszard Cholewiński, a senior migration specialist with the International Labour Organisation [said] “There have been attempts by a number of companies to sort out sleeping arrangements, but even on a good day in some of these facilities, people are four to a room"...

A report released by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre this month noted that migrant workers in the Gulf “live in tightly packed labour camps, often in unsanitary conditions, some without access to running water.

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15 April 2020

Symptoms Or Not, Migrant Workers Must Work In Gulf Countries

Author: Rejimon Kuttappan, The Lede (India)

“[Qatar] say lockdown in on. But work on major projects like [the Hamad International Airport expansion] and FIFA World Cup 2022 is on. Even if we say we have symptoms, they make us work. We don’t have a place to run away and hide either,” [said migrant worker] Rajeev...

The Lede reporter had visited workers’ camps in UAE and had filed a story on March 05 on how migrant workers are afraid of the COVID-19 outbreak in their camps...

Confirming The Lede’s findings, a fresh report by Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) reveals that while some construction companies are taking welcome steps, most are not doing enough to protect these at-risk workers.

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10 April 2020

Construction companies failing to protect migrant workers in Qatar and UAE: Report

Author: Middle East Eye

Construction companies in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are failing to protect migrant workers during the coronavirus pandemic, a new report has revealed...

Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) said in a report on Thursday that it had documented a myriad of problems with the way firms in the two Gulf countries have handled the safety of migrant construction workers during the pandemic...

BHRRC said the construction workers in Qatar and the UAE were continuing to live in "tightly packed, often unsanitary, labour camps" that create conditions "perfect for the spread of Covid-19".

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9 April 2020

Report raises ‘deep concern’ over migrant workers safety in the Gulf

Author: Middle East Monitor

Serious concerns have been raised over the safety of migrant construction workers in the UAE and Qatar in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. A report released today by the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) reveals that a majority of companies which participated in a survey of health and safety provisions are not doing enough to protect such employees...

the issues uncovered by the survey raise questions about the safety of migrant workers. Fourteen construction companies were questioned but only half responded... a number of companies had undertook measures to protect workers... [yet] there were serious shortcomings.

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