NGO coalition calls on Qatar to put migrant worker welfare at the front of their response to Covid-19
On 31 March 2020, a coalition of civil society organisations and trade unions, including the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, sent a letter to the Qatar government, urging them to take actions to take preventative steps to protect migrant workers during the Covid-19 outbreak.
The letter follows reports of increased numbers of cases of coronavirus among migrant workers in a labour camp just outside Doha. Migrant workers are among the most vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic, to a heightened risk of infection due to their cramped living conditions and to suffering disproportionate and devastating economic hardship.
The letter makes five asks to ensure that:
- Migrant workers, whose living conditions leave them vulnerable to infecion, are tested and provided with medical treatment and the means to protect themselves from infection. This includes an ask that the authorities monitor companies across all sectors to ensure they are operating responsibly to implement the guidelines and requirements;
- No one, including migrant workers, is detained for violating quarantine;
- Migrant workers unable to work either due to quarantine or illness continue to receive their full wages;
- The public is provided with information to ensure migrant, including domestic, workers do not face discrimination or stigma in relation to the virus; and
- Domestic workers are provided with access to protective measures and healthcare, and guaranteed sick pay.
The letter's signatories include: AFL-CIO, Amnesty International, Building & Woodworkers International, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Equidem, Equidem Nepal, Fair/ Square, Francois Crepeau, Global Labor Justice, Human Rights Watch, Humanity United, International Transport Workers Federation, International Trade Union Confederation, Migrant Forum in Asia, Migrant-Rights, Solidarity Center.
Similar letters were sent to all Gulf states; they can be read here.
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Qatar's Approach: Applying COVID-19 Precautionary Measures while Preserving and Upholding Human Rights
Author: Qatar Supreme Committee for Crisis Management
The State of Qatar appreciates the acknowledgment of the positive measures taken by the government and we welcome the steps outlined to further enhance the protection of workers...
Qatar’s COVID-19 measures are in line with World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines and have been recognized by its Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Qatar has provided transparent information and facts, free checkups, free healthcare, and medical supplies to all citizens and residents without discrimination regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, nationality, or residency status.
Author: Amnesty International
The labour systems operating in these countries... make it extremely difficult for migrant workers to protect themselves...
Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s Middle East Research Director, said:
“Gulf countries are highly dependent on migrant workers in almost every major sector to help grow their economies - and yet they have utterly failed to protect migrant workers, and treat them with the dignity and respect they deserve.
“This pandemic has further exposed their extremely vulnerable position...
“... much more needs to be done to ensure COVID-19 will not result in further human rights violations and greater suffering for migrant workers in these countries.”
Author: Human Rights Watch (HRW)
Qatari authorities should ensure that migrant workers receive adequate protection during the COVID-19 pandemic, a coalition of 16 nongovernmental organizations and trade unions said in a letter on March 31, 2020 to Qatar’s prime minister and interior minister, Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz Al-Thani...
While acknowledging the positive steps taken to protect migrant workers infected and at-risk of infection by COVID-19, the coalition urged the authorities to supplement these with further actions that protect public health and are consistent with fundamental human rights, including the principle of non-discrimination.
Author: AFL-CIO, Amnesty International, Building & Woodworkers International, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Equidem, Equidem Nepal, Fair/ Square, Francois Crepeau, Global Labor Justice, Human Rights Watch, Humanity United, International Transport Workers Federation, International Trade Union Confederation, Migrant Forum in Asia, Migrant-Rights, Solidarity Center