Qatar: Fears that poor living conditions for migrant workers linked to sharp rise in coronavirus cases

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5 April 2020

Revealed: How coronavirus outbreak is shining a light on violations inside Qatar’s labor camps

Author: Arab News

Many of [Sri Lankan worker Antony's] former dormitory mates and co-workers now find themselves in a virtual prison, sealed off inside the Industrial Area by Qatari internal security following the coronavirus outbreak...

The abject squalor of the Industrial Area has long been an open secret... its remote location meant it was safely out of the sight of journalists on all-expenses-paid Qatar tours and visiting officials of international organizations...

with possibly thousands of workers infected with the coronavirus and the entire district under strict lockdown, the public-health crisis has become yet another blot on Qatar’s reputation...

A diplomatic source said: “The situation (as of Friday) is under control, but not entirely. There are serious restrictions on workers’ movement.”

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26 March 2020

Nepalis in Qatar live in overcrowded and squalid conditions even during pandemic

Author: Chandan Kumar Mandal, Kathmandu Post

[Qatar] imposed a general lockdown two weeks ago after Covid-19 cases were reported... But for workers like Raja, life goes on.

“We are still going to work. An office vehicle picks us up and drops us off at the worksite...Everyone is working in fear as cases of Covid-19 are increasing every day” [he said].

Most of the country’s 481 confirmed cases were reported in its industrial area, a commercial hub outside Doha where many migrant workers such as Raja live...

When we run out of daily supplies, we have no option but to go out as there are no shops inside the camp,” said Raja. “We used to have small markets where workers like us could buy groceries at cheaper rates. Now, they too are closed.”

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22 March 2020

Uncertainty reigns in Qatar worker area sealed off over coronavirus fears

Author: Middle East Eye

Foreign workers in Qatar living in an area sealed off to contain the spread of the new coronavirus have complained of a lack of information, as [Amnesty International] warned that conditions there were putting people at risk...

Several workers from South Asia living in the Industrial Area told AFP on the weekend that they have access to health care and food supplies, but felt they were being left in the dark by authorities...

The district has been ringed with police checkpoints and a decontamination unit deployed to disinfect vehicles used to deliver supplies. Officials have not said how many people were under lockdown in the area.

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21 March 2020

Qatar vows to protect all residents amid Industrial Area breakout

Author: Al Jazeera

Qatar has said it is making every effort to prevent the spread of the coronavirus and protect its residents, including millions of expatriate workers...

A [government] statement... said it is working closely with employers in the country to "ensure the welfare and medical needs of the residents are met".

"In the quarantined area, individuals are being seen by doctors and medical personnel, with regular testing and monitoring for all individuals,Qatar's Government Communications Office (GCO) said...

"Those testing positive or displaying symptoms are kept under close medical attention and are transported to a hospital if necessary."

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20 March 2020

Covid-19 lockdown turns Qatar's largest migrant camp into 'virtual prison'

Author: Pete Pattison & Roshan Sedhai, The Guardian (UK)

Qatar’s largest labour camp for migrant workers has become a virtual prison and is in total lockdown after hundreds of construction workers became infected with Covid-19...

thousands of workers trapped in squalid, over-crowded camps, where the virus can spread rapidly. No one can enter or leave, say workers who live in the area, many of whom had been working on Fifa World Cup 2022 infrastructure projects.

Inside the quarantined camps, workers describe an atmosphere of fear and uncertainty.

Sources inside the camp told The Guardian that some workers were being put on unpaid leave until further notice, with only food and accommodation covered.

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20 March 2020

Migrant workers in labour camps at grave risk amid COVID-19 crisis

Author: Amnesty International

Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of Global Issues, said:

“As the world struggles to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, migrant workers trapped in camps such as those in Qatar are at particular risk...

“Labour accommodation camps are notoriously overcrowded, and lack in adequate water and sanitation... workers are inevitably less able to protect themselves from the virus...

“The Qatari government must ensure that human rights remain central to all attempts at prevention and containment of the COVID-19 virus, and also that all people have access to health care, including preventive care and treatment for everyone affected, without discrimination.”

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11 March 2020

Labor conditions in Qatar spark fear of coronavirus outbreak going out of control

Author: Arab News

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...Some observers suggested Qatar’s lack of transparency over the coronavirus raised questions 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 laborers?” asked Brian Whitaker, the former Middle East editor at The Guardian newspaper. “They are described as expatriates in shared accommodation,” he added.


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