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

Migrant labourers work at a construction site at the Aspire Zone in Doha, Qatar, March 26, 2016. (Reuters)
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Updated 12 March 2020

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

  • Qatar has faced international condemnation for its treatment of migrant workers

RIYADH: 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.
Among the many reports documenting the abuses, Amnesty International found in 2016 that workers at one of the flagship stadiums were forced to live in squalid accommodation, pay huge recruitment fees and had wages withheld and passports confiscated.
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.
Qatar claims it has enacted a series of reforms to protect workers, but Amnesty said last year abuses continued and hundreds of workers were going unpaid as those reforms stalled.


Erdogan says only solution in Mediterranean is dialogue

Updated 39 min 57 sec ago

Erdogan says only solution in Mediterranean is dialogue

  • Turkey and Greece, NATO allies, are vehemently at odds over overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources in the region

ANKARA: President Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that the only solution to Turkey’s dispute with Greece over energy exploration in the eastern Mediterranean was through dialogue and negotiation, and Ankara was not chasing any “adventures” in the region.
Turkey and Greece, NATO allies, are vehemently at odds over overlapping claims for hydrocarbon resources in the region, and tensions have risen since Ankara launched exploration operations in a disputed area of the Mediterranean on Monday, in a move Greece called illegal.
Speaking to members of his ruling AK Party, Erdogan said the escalation of tensions in the region was caused by Greece, and urged Athens to respect Turkey’s rights. “The path to a solution in the eastern Mediterranean is via dialogue and negotiation. We are not chasing any unnecessary adventures or seeking tensions,” he said.