More than 300 distressed Bangladeshis without salary in Qatar for 6 months

In this Nov. 7, 2014, file photo, men talk by the sea overlooking the Qatar skyline in Doha, Qatar. (AP)
Updated 14 November 2018

More than 300 distressed Bangladeshis without salary in Qatar for 6 months

  • Bangladesh mission officials said around 400,000 Bangladeshi migrants were working in Qatar
  • Around 100 Bangladeshi workers left the camp in the past few days and repatriated to Bangladesh

DHAKA: “We had to face starvation for three days on Sept 8, 9 and 10. Now, every day we are getting two meals from a Qatar charity,” said Kazi Lutfur Rahman, a Bangladeshi migrant who has worked with Doha-based estate agent Hamton International since 2012.
“Around 1,000 migrant workers from Asia and Africa are now living a very miserable life in a camp without electricity and water supply.”
Like Rahman, around 300 Bangladeshi migrants are now living in uncertainty in Qatar since the employer Hamton International has not paid their salary for about six months. The workers are now living in a camp at Al Shahaniya, about 20km from Doha.
“The Qatar charity provides us with diesel to produce electricity during the night only for two hours, and for a shower we rush to a nearby church,” Rahman, 44, told Arab News.
The crisis in Hamton started in April this year when the staff remained unpaid for two months. After the workers’ agitation in June the employer paid them two months’ salary in arrears and promised to pay the due amount on June 20.
But still the workers remained unpaid. Later on Hamton management increased the time to July and promised to pay the due salary on Sept.10.
“Just two days before the payment date the authority closed the operations of the company and we fell into uncertainty about our due payments,” added Rahman, who has worked for Hamton since July 2012 and used to receive around $550 salary per month.
Apart from Bangladeshis, there are 1,000 other migrants from India, Nepal, Ghana and Sri Lanka, Rahman said.
Sirajul Islam, labor secretary of the Bangladesh mission in Qatar, told Arab News: “We are very concerned about the sufferings of our migrants and already we have contacted the Qatar Labor Ministry to resolve the crisis.”
He said that among the 333 Bangladeshis, around 150 workers joined last June/July and all of them spent around $4,300 to get the job.
“We are trying to replace the Bangladeshi workers in some other local companies. Already the Qatar Labor Ministry has initiated the issue and it may take another one or two weeks to place many of them in the new job.”
However, around 100 Bangladeshi workers left the camp in the past few days and repatriated to Bangladesh. According to the Bangladesh mission authority, they were compensated by the concerned recruiting agencies in Bangladesh which sent the workers to Qatar and the repatriated migrants have authorized the Bangladesh mission in Doha to receive the money from their company in their absence.
Family members of the distressed Bangladeshi migrants are living in anxiety and have had sleepless nights for the past two months.
Morium Begum, 35, Rahman’s wife, told Arab News: “I want the safe return of my husband and the employer should pay the due amount.”
She added: “We have one son and two daughters. All of them are studying in school and college. Last night I noticed my elder daughter was weeping alone about her father, which was unbearable for me as a mother.”
Repeated attempts were made to reach Hamton International’s top management, but none of the telephone numbers on its official letterhead was in service.
Bangladesh mission officials said around 400,000 Bangladeshi migrants were working in Qatar. Of them, 75 percent are engaged in construction work and around 100,000 are employed as drivers, housemaids and cleaning staff.

Filipino rebel chiefs become officials under peace deal

President Rodrigo Duterte, political leaders and officials flash the peace sign following Friday’s oath-taking ceremony in Manila. (AP)
Updated 22 February 2019

Filipino rebel chiefs become officials under peace deal

  • It is a very difficult and challenging process, says MILF spokesman

MANILA: Some of the fiercest Muslim rebel commanders in the southern Philippines were sworn in Friday as administrators of a new Muslim autonomous region in a delicate milestone to settle one of Asia’s longest-raging rebellions.

President Rodrigo Duterte led a ceremony to name Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) leader Murad Ebrahim and some of his top commanders as among 80 administrators of a transition government for the five-province region called Bangsamoro.

About 12,000 combatants with thousands of firearms are to be demobilized starting this year under the peace deal.  Thousands of other guerrillas would disarm if agreements under the deal would be followed, including providing the insurgents with livelihood to help them return to normal life.

“We would like to see an end of the violence,” Duterte said. 

“After all, we go to war and shoot each other counting our victories not by the progress or development of the place but by the dead bodies that were strewn around during the violent years.”

About 150,000 people have died in the conflict over several decades and stunted development in the resource-rich region. 

Duterte promised adequate resources, a daunting problem in the past.

The Philippine and Western governments and the guerrillas see an effective Muslim autonomy as an antidote to nearly half a century of secessionist violence, which Daesh could exploit to gain a foothold.

“The dream that we have fought for is now happening and there’s no more reason for us to carry our guns and continue the war,” rebel forces spokesman Von Al-Haq said in an interview ahead of the ceremony.

Several commanders long wanted for deadly attacks were given safety passes to be able to travel to Manila and join the ceremony, including Abdullah Macapaar, who uses the nom de guerre Commander Bravo, Al-Haq said. 

Known for his fiery rhetoric while wearing his camouflage uniform and brandishing his assault rifle and grenades, Macapaar will be one of the 41 regional administrators from the rebel front.

Duterte will pick his representatives to fill the rest of the Bangsamoro Transition Authority, which will also act as a regional Parliament with Murad as the chief minister until regular officials are elected in 2022.

Members of the Moro National Liberation Front, which signed a 1996 autonomy deal that has largely been seen as a failure, will also be given seats in the autonomous government.

Disgruntled fighters of the Moro National Liberation Front broke off and formed new armed groups, including the notorious Abu Sayyaf, which turned to terrorism and banditry after losing its commanders early in battle. 

The Abu Sayyaf has been blacklisted by the US as a terrorist organization and has been suspected of staging a suspected Jan. 27 suicide bombing that killed 23 mostly churchgoers in a Roman Catholic cathedral on southern Jolo island.

“We have already seen the pitfalls,” Al-Haq said, acknowledging that the violence would not stop overnight because of the presence of the Abu Sayyaf and other armed groups, some linked to Daesh. 

“It’s a very difficult and challenging process.”