Sudan diplomats unpaid for months: minister

File photo showing Sudan's FM Ibrahim Ghandour. (AN photo)
Updated 18 April 2018
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Sudan diplomats unpaid for months: minister

KHARYOUM: A cash shortfall has seen several Sudanese foreign diplomats go unpaid for months and they have been seeking to return home as a result, Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour said Wednesday.
In a speech to lawmakers, Ghandour said his ministry had also been unable to pay the rent for several diplomatic missions across the world for the same reason.
“For months Sudanese diplomats have not received salaries and there is also a delay in paying rent for diplomatic missions,” Ghandour said, without specifying which ones.
Sudan has been facing financial difficulties amid an acute shortage of hard foreign currency that has seen the east African country’s economic crisis worsen.
Ghandour said he himself had been in touch with the governor of the country’s central bank but has failed to secure funds to pay the diplomats.
“The situation has now turned dangerous, which is why I am talking about it publicly,” he said.
Ghandour said there was a feeling among some government officials that paying wages to diplomats and rent for diplomatic missions were not a priority.
“Some ambassadors and diplomats want to return to Khartoum now... because of the difficulties faced by them and their families,” he said.
When asked by reporters for more details after his speech, Ghandour said the wages of diplomats and rents of missions amounted to about $30 million annually, while the ministry’s total annual budget was about $69 million.
Sudan has been hit hard by an acute shortage of foreign currency that has seen the pound plunging against the dollar, forcing the central bank to devalue it two times since January.
Expectations of a quick economic revival were high in the aftermath of October 12 when Washington lifted its decades-old sanctions imposed on Khartoum.
But officials say the situation has not changed at all as international banks continue to be wary of doing business with Sudanese banks.
The country’s overall economy had been hit particularly hard after the south separated from the north in 2011, taking with it about 75 percent of oil earnings.
A surging inflation rate of about 56 percent, regular fuel shortages and rising prices of food items have often triggered sporadic anti-government protests in Khartoum and some other towns.


Migrant workers still exploited in World Cup host Qatar: Amnesty

Updated 19 September 2019

Migrant workers still exploited in World Cup host Qatar: Amnesty

PARIS: Qatar is not fulfilling all its promises to improve the conditions of migrant workers in the country in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup, Amnesty International said Thursday.
In a report entitled "All Work, No Pay", the rights group said: "Despite the significant promises of reform which Qatar has made ahead of the 2022 World Cup, it remains a playground for unscrupulous employers."
The report came as French President Emmanuel Macron and Qatar Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani were due to meet in Paris on Thursday.
Sheikh Tamim also attended Wednesday's high-profile clash between Paris Saint-Germain -- owned by Qatar's state-owned investment fund -- and Real Madrid.
Doha has made efforts since being named World Cup hosts to improve the conditions of the migrant workers who make up a majority of the Gulf emirate's population.
In November 2017, a temporary $200 monthly minimum wage was introduced for most categories of workers with a permanent level expected to be set before the end of the year.
Exit visas granted at the discretion of employers, required by some workers to leave the country, should be entirely scrapped by the end of 2019 according to the International Labour Organization (ILO).
But Amnesty reported challenges faced by hundreds of workers at three construction and cleaning companies in Qatar who went unpaid for months.
"Migrant workers often go to Qatar in the hope of giving their families a better life; instead many people return home penniless after spending months chasing their wages, with too little help from the systems that are supposed to protect them," said Stephen Cockburn, Amnesty's deputy director of global issues.
After coming under fire over the treatment of migrant workers, Qatar agreed with the ILO in 2017 to undertake labour reforms, including establishing new dispute resolution committees.
"We are urging the Qatari authorities to fully deliver what has been promised and end the shameful reality of labour exploitation," Cockburn said.
Amnesty cited the case of a Kenyan employee of United Cleaning who said he had to rummage for food in garbage bins after receiving no salary for five months.
The man said he had worked for two years and five months for the company without taking any holidays and was owed "a lot of money".
The companies all cited financial difficulties for the non-payment of wages, according to the report.
A Qatar government spokesman said the country had "made substantial progress on labour reforms".
"We continue to work with NGOs, including the ILO, to ensure that these reforms are far-reaching and effective," he said in a statement.
"Any issues or delays with our systems will be addressed comprehensively. We have said, from the outset that this would take time, resources and commitment."