Saudi Arabia leads global condemnation of Houthi attack targeting Abu Dhabi

Men stand outside a storage facility of ADNOC in Abu Dhabi, on Jan. 17, 2022. Three people were killed in a suspected drone attack on ADNOC facilities on Monday. (AFP)
1 / 2
Men stand outside a storage facility of ADNOC in Abu Dhabi, on Jan. 17, 2022. Three people were killed in a suspected drone attack on ADNOC facilities on Monday. (AFP)
Saudi Arabia leads global condemnation of Houthi attack targeting Abu Dhabi
2 / 2
Short Url
Updated 18 January 2022

Saudi Arabia leads global condemnation of Houthi attack targeting Abu Dhabi

Men stand outside a storage facility of ADNOC in Abu Dhabi, on Jan. 17, 2022. Three people were killed in a suspected drone attack on ADNOC facilities on Monday. (AFP)
  • Kingdom affirmed full support for UAE in the face of all threats to its security and stability
  • The UAE said it reserves the right to respond to the attack

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister strongly condemned a Houthi “terrorist attack” targeting civilian areas and facilities in the UAE on Monday.

A drone attack targeting a key oil facility in Abu Dhabi killed three people and sparked a separate fire at Abu Dhabi's international airport on Monday, police said.

The attack, claimed by the Houthis, also resulted in six people being injured. 

READ MORE

Three people – one Pakistani and two Indian - were killed and six others injured after three fuel tankers exploded in the industrial area of Musaffah ICAD 3 near an ADNOC storage unit in Abu Dhabi. Click here for more.

During a phone call with his Emirati counterpart, Prince Faisal bin Farhan affirmed the Kingdom's full solidarity with the UAE in the face of all threats to its security and stability.

Prince Faisal stressed that the security of the UAE and Saudi Arabia are indivisible and offered his condolences to the families of the victims of “this cowardly terrorist attack,” and to the government and people of the UAE.

An earlier statement issued by the Kingdom’s foreign ministry condemned in “the strongest terms” the “cowardly terrorist attack” that targeted Abu Dhabi International Airport on Monday.

Opinion

This section contains relevant reference points, placed in (Opinion field)

The statement said that this terrorist act, which the Houthis are responsible for, “reaffirms the danger of this terrorist group and its threat to security, peace, and stability in the region and the world.”

The Kingdom stressed that it continues to confront all Houthi terrorist attempts and practices through its leadership of the Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen.

The Kingdom offered its sincere condolences and sympathy to the families of the victims and to the government and people of the UAE, wishing a speedy recovery to all those injured in the attack.

Gulf condemnation

The UAE said it reserves the right to respond after the Houthi attack on Abu Dhabi killed three Abu Dhabi National Oil Company employees.

“We condemn the terrorist Houthi militia's targeting of civilian areas and facilities on UAE soil today,” the country’s foreign minister said.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al-Nahyan stressed that the attack would not go unpunished.

The foreign ministry described the attack “as a heinous crime committed by the Houthi militia” that goes against international and humanitarian law.

The ministry said that the militia continues its crimes unchecked in an effort to spread terrorism and chaos in the region in order to achieve its illegal aims and objectives.

It called on the international community to condemn and completely reject these terrorist acts that target civilians and civilian facilities.

The ministry expressed its sincere condolences to the families of those who died in the attack and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

Earlier on Monday, Anwar Gargash, diplomatic adviser to the UAE President, said the concerned authorities in the UAE are dealing with the “Houthi aggression” on civilian facilities in Abu Dhabi transparently and responsibly.

The militia’s violation of the region’s stability is too weak to affect the security and safety of the UAE, he added.

“The fate of this thoughtlessness and reckless foolishness is demise and defeat,” Gargash said.

Bahrain’s foreign ministry also condemned the attack and said that the “cowardly terrorist attack, which resulted in the death of three civilians and the injury of others, violates international humanitarian law and all other international laws.”

The attack “constitutes a blatant attack on the sovereignty of the UAE, reflecting the insistence of the terrorist Houthi militia to continue their cowardly criminal attacks,” the ministry said.

The ministry called upon the international community to take “necessary steps against the militia, whose hostile acts confirm that they are a terrorist organisation that poses a serious threat to the stability and security of the region.”

Kuwait also condemned the attack and the targeting of civilian areas in the UAE by the Houthi militia.

The country’s foreign ministry said the militia’s continued targeting of civilians and civilian areas and their insistence on violating international law confirms the danger of their behavior and the need for the international community to put an end to it.

The ministry said it supports any steps taken by the UAE to protect its security and stability.

Qatar expressed its strong condemnation and denunciation of the attack and said it considered the targeting of civilian establishments and vital facilities as a terrorist act that violates all international norms and laws.

The country’s foreign ministry reiterated Qatar's firm position on rejecting violence and terrorist acts that target civilians and civilian facilities.

Meanwhile, Oman’s foreign ministry expressed solidarity with the UAE and pledged to fully support the country’s measures in maintaining its security and stability.

In a statement issued on Monday, Oman strongly condemned the attack that targeted the UAE territories and killed civilians. 

Global condemnation 

The UN’s Secretary-General condemned the Houthi attack and urged all parties to exercise maximum restraint.

“Attacks on civilians and civilian infrastructure are prohibited by international law,” Antonio Guterres’ spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

“The Secretary-General calls on all parties to exercise maximum restraint and prevent any escalation amidst heightened tensions in the region. There are no military solutions to the conflict in Yemen,” Dujarric added.

The US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and the Department of Defense on Tuesday “strongly condemned” the attack.

“We remain committed to the UAE’s security and ability to defend itself, and stand united with our Emirati partners in defending against all threats to their territory,” Austin said.

In Rome, Italy condemned the missile and drone attacks and warned that this could badly impact regional stability.

“Italy … expresses solidarity with the victims’ families, and is close to the UAE government at this moment,” said the Foreign Ministry.

Rome “strongly condemns an act that, fueling the spiral of violence, may have repercussions on the entire region’s stability,” it added.

A ministry spokesman told Arab News: “Attacks against civilian targets jeopardize prospects for resumed peace talks aimed at ending the seven-year-old conflict in Yemen. We fully support such talks, and reaffirm our complete confidence in efforts toward a negotiated solution being pursued by UN Special Envoy Hans Grundberg.”

News of the attacks was discussed in a late-night debate in Italy’s Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Parliament, where support for the UAE was strongly expressed by all parties.

“Italy and NATO must immediately take sides alongside the friends of the UAE to prevent the outbreak of a new and very dangerous war in the Arabian Gulf, with scary implications,” said Michaela Biancofiore, group leader of the Coraggio Italia party in the Chamber of Deputies’ Foreign Affairs Committee.

Massimo Mallegni, a senator for Forza Italia, told Arab News that the attacks are “a clear signal of the will to threaten not only the security of the UAE but also peace and stability in the Arab region. The civil war in Yemen is objectively a worrying danger for the UAE and for the Saudi government — Italy can only be on the side of those two friendly nations.”

The US strongly condemned “today’s terrorist attack in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates” and will work to hold the Houthi militia accountable after they claimed responsibility for the incident, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan said on Monday.

“Our commitment to the security of the UAE is unwavering and we stand beside our Emirati partners against all threats to their territory,” Sullivan said.

Japan also strongly condemned the attacks claimed by the Yemen-based Houthis against the United Arab Emirates and called for an immediate halt to such attacks.

An official statement issued by the foreign ministry in Tokyo on Jan. 18 said the government of Japan expresses its condolences to those who lost lives in the incidents and their bereaved families.

“Peace and stability in the Middle East are important for the international community. The Government of Japan remains committed to continuously making serious efforts, in cooperation with countries concerned, to maintain and reinforce peace and stability in the Middle East,” the ministry said.

Following the attack, the UAE will ask the US to put the Houthis back on its list of terrorist organizations, Bloomberg reported.

The UAE will work on building pressure through the UN Security Council over the strike on Monday and the Houthi seizure of Emirati vessel Rwabee earlier this month, a source told Bloomberg.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken also condemned the Houthi attack on the UAE in a phone call with his Emirati counterpart Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Emirates News Agency reported.

Yemen’s foreign ministry said the attack shows the frustration felt by the militia after their recent losses in Shabwa, which was completely reclaimed from them last week, and the oil-rich province of Marib.

The ministry renewed its support for the Kingdom and the UAE and any measures taken by the countries to “confront these despicable terrorist acts, preserve the safety of their citizens and residents on their lands, and protect vital facilities.”

The Coalition to Restore Legitimacy in Yemen said that Houthi targeting of civilians in the Kingdom and the UAE are war crimes and that the militia must be held accountable.

It described Monday's hostile attack on the UAE as “cowardly” and “evil.”

Coalition spokesman Brigadier General Turki Al-Maliki said Houthi attacks on Saudi Arabia and the UAE are a threat to regional and international security and a flagrant violation of international humanitarian law.

“We will take the necessary operational measures to deter the hostile behavior of the Houthi militia,” Al-Maliki said.

“The escalation and hostile behavior of the Houthi militia confirms its threat to regional security and their attacks are an extension of their threat to the freedom of maritime navigation and global trade,” he added.

The Organization of Islamic Cooperation strongly condemned the terrorist attack and said it stands in solidarity with the UAE and supports any steps that the country takes to protect its safety.

Jordan’s foreign ministry said the country condemned “this cowardly terrorist attack” and stressed its absolute solidarity with the UAE.

“The security of the UAE is an integral part of Jordan’s security,” the ministry said.

It extended condolences to the families of the victims, and wished the injured a speedy recovery.

Egypt’s Sameh Shoukri, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Arab Republic of Egypt, also told Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan during a phone call that the UAE's national security closely linked to Egypt's security. 

Shoukri said Egypt strongly condemns the terrorist attack by the Houthi militia on civilian areas and facilities in UAE and fully supports the Gulf country’s measures taken to deal with any acts of terrorism. 

Meanwhile, Nasser Bourita, Minister of Foreign Affairs, African Cooperation and Moroccan Expatriates, expressed similar sentiments in a phone call with his counterpart, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan. 

The Moroccan minister reiterated his country’s solidarity with the UAE in all its measures to defend its territories and the security of its residents.

He also expressed his condolences to the families of the victims and wished a speedy recovery for those who were injured in the incident. 

The Arab Parliament issued a statement on Monday condeming the attack. 

 The Arab Parliament reiterated in its statement that the attack represents the Houthi militia’s cowardly terrorist aggression, is a violation of international humanitarian law and “a blatant attack on the sovereignty of the UAE.” 

It has also called on the international community to “take firm steps against these militias whose criminal acts confirm that they are a terrorist organisation that poses a serious threat to the security and stability of the region.”

Mohamed Al Halbousi, Speaker of Iraq's Council of Representatives, also condemned the attack by the Houthis in the UAE during a phone call with Saqr Ghobash, Speaker of the Federal National Council (FNC), and offered his condolences to the victims’ families.

The European Union condemned the attack and said targeting civilians is “unacceptable.”

The Houthi attack increases the risk of escalating the conflict in Yemen and undermines efforts to end the war there, the EU said.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Lizz Truss condemned “in the strongest terms the Houthi-claimed terrorist attacks on the United Arab Emirates.”

France condemned “in the strongest terms” the deadly drone attack on Abu Dhabi.
“These attacks threaten the security of the United Arab Emirates and regional stability,” Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian said.
“France expresses its support for the UAE in the face of these attacks,” he said.
Le Drian reiterated his call for the Houthis to “immediately cease their destabilising actions in Yemen and in the region and to engage constructively in a political process for exiting the crisis.”
“France reaffirms its mobilisation in favour of a cessation of hostilities in the whole country and a relaunch of talks with a view to a global political agreement under the aegis of the United Nations,” the minister said.

Algeria also condemned the attack.


‘Elections did not undermine Hezbollah but gives Lebanon chance to reorganize’ says spokesman for the American Task Force on Lebanon

‘Elections did not undermine Hezbollah but gives Lebanon chance to reorganize’ says spokesman for the American Task Force on Lebanon
Updated 21 sec ago

‘Elections did not undermine Hezbollah but gives Lebanon chance to reorganize’ says spokesman for the American Task Force on Lebanon

‘Elections did not undermine Hezbollah but gives Lebanon chance to reorganize’ says spokesman for the American Task Force on Lebanon

CHICAGO: The result of Lebanon’s elections should not lead people to believe that Hezbollah has been undermined but should be seen as an opportunity to restructure the country’s political dynamics, a spokesman for the American Task Force on Lebanon said on Wednesday.
Jean AbiNader, ATFL vice president for policy, explained that Hezbollah coalition partners such as the conservative Christian Free Patriotic Movement, headed by President Aoun’s son-in-law Gibran Bassile, lost seats, weakening the Hezbollah-led group.
AbiNader said that America needs to “de-couple” US policies toward Lebanon from US policies toward Iran. He said that Hezbollah, which is considered a terrorist organization by the US, must decide, too, if it is Lebanese or an arm of Iranian regional influence. But Hezbollah did not lose influence in the election, he said, only its coalition partnership.


“That’s really critical for people to understand. Hezbollah hasn’t lost. Its coalition lost. One is the Free Patriotic Movement, which is President Michel Aoun’s party now run by Gebran Bassile,” AbiNader said during an interview on The Ray Hanania Radio show broadcast on the US Arab Radio Network and sponsored by Arab News.
“They lost seats. The biggest losers, of course, are the Sunnis because they didn’t contest the election. A number of Sunni candidates won. That’s great. Some pro-Syrian candidates lost. Some outliers who are not members of any coalition also lost. What you have here is Amal, Hezbollah, the kernel of their 27 seats is intact. They will look to Marada and other organizations to join with them in a coalition. But regardless of what happens, if — and this is a big if — if Lebanese forces can pull together with the Druze, and can pick up with the independents and the anti-traditional leaders, they will have a slim majority in parliament.”
He said that the political balance will “shift all the time,” but conceded, “it is definitely a time of uncertainty.”
AbiNader said that the election has created an opportunity for the Lebanese people to form a new coalition that will focus on confronting the corruption that has blocked a full investigation of the Aug. 4, 2020 explosion that killed more than 218 people, injured 7,000 and made more than 300,000 people homeless.
“The explosion “has never really been investigated,” AbiNader said. Questions still remain about how much of the ammonium nitrate that exploded still remains and where it is. He said that the explosion was estimated to reflect the power of about 500 tons of ammonium nitrate. But, he said, there was more than 2,700 tons at the port and the whereabouts of the 2,200 tons remains a dangerous mystery.
“If we get a new government in Lebanon, the investigation will go forward,” AbiNader predicted, noting that two of the government ministers who have called for an investigation were re-elected.
“There is no full investigation in Lebanon of that bombing, so far,” AbiNader said.
He said that the Lebanese continue to live under the fear that more violence could take place.



“There is that fear and the fear is how do we set up a government that can function that isn’t a provocation to Hezbollah. And that is a real challenge because the Lebanese forces, the largest Christian party, that will form an anti-Hezbollah coalition has to do it more than on anti-grounds,” AbiNader said.
“They have to be pro-something. That’s my concern — that Lebanese forces will see their votes as a mandate to be aggressive and antagonistic to Hezbollah. That shouldn’t be the target. The target should be an independent judiciary, complete the investigations, fix the economy, put money back in people’s pockets, and diminish corruption. That’s what the challenges should be because that is what people are tired of. Hezbollah will gradually lose its attraction as it loses its raison d’etre, which is to protect Lebanon against Israel.”
AbiNader argued that Hezbollah, which is a political force and a powerful militia, must decide whether it is Lebanese or is a force for Iran.
America, he added, must see past Hezbollah in helping Lebanon to recover and rebuild. The Biden administration, AbiNader said, has been very supportive of Lebanon, but America needs to do more.



“Let’s be frank. The United States has not really been very smart about the Middle East in terms of their politics. They have been trying to pivot out of the region since Obama,” AbiNader said.
“The relationships with the Lebanese and other groups have been hard won. And they have usually seen Lebanon through an Iranian lens or an Israeli lens and not Lebanon for itself. And that’s really what we have been fighting to get over the past 20 years is a Lebanese policy that is built on US-Lebanon interests and not a Lebanon being seen as something affected by the Iran negotiations or by Israel’s security.”
The challenge, he said, remains in Congress, where some members continue to believe that Lebanon is “run by Hezbollah and Iran.”
“We had to show them time and time again that Lebanon has been a good partner with the United States,” AbiNader said.
“The Congress has increased the amount of humanitarian assistance to Lebanon. It has increased the amount of assistance to the LAF (Lebanese Armed Forces),” AbiNader said.
“It has made very strong indications of what the US would like Lebanon to do, for example, vis a vis the elections in terms of being free, fair and on time, which helped a lot. It has helped Lebanon with the World Bank, in terms of Lebanon receiving certain loans, for example, to subsidize wheat. So, I think the United States is doing a lot. But can it do more? We always think it should.”
AbiNader acknowledged that a stronger case must be made to the Lebanese people explaining what the US is doing for Lebanon, given the pressures of the Russian war in Ukraine, economic issues with China, and immigration challenges on America’s southern border.
AbiNader said that Lebanon is grateful that US President Joseph Biden has restored the financial support that was stripped by his predecessor, Donald Trump.

 

  • The Ray Hanania Radio Show is broadcast on the US Arab Radio Network and sponsored by Arab News live every Wednesday at 5 p.m. EST in Detroit on WNZK AM 690 and in Washington D.C. on WDMV AM 700. It is rebroadcast on Thursdays at 7 a.m. EST in Detroit on WNZK AM 690 radio and in Chicago at 12 noon on WNWI AM 1080.

 For the podcast and more information on the radio show visit: www.arabnews.com/rayradioshow  

Yemeni FM meets with Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs, urges to put pressure on Houthis

Yemeni FM meets with Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs, urges to put pressure on Houthis
Updated 19 May 2022

Yemeni FM meets with Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs, urges to put pressure on Houthis

Yemeni FM meets with Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs, urges to put pressure on Houthis

Japanese State Minister for Foreign Affairs ODAWARA Kiyoshi met with the Yemeni Foreign Minister Ahmed bin Mubarak on Wednesday to discuss ways to enhance bilateral ties between the two countries.

During their meeting, Mubarak praised the “distinguished and historical” bilateral relations between Japan and Yemen, which extend to several fields including political, economic and developmental.

He also expressed the Yemeni government’s appreciation of Japan’s long-term support to the humanitarian response in Yemen, as well as efforts aimed at supporting the peace process.

Mubarak praised the strength of bilateral relations, and Japan’s support for the Presidential Leadership Council, stressing that the Council is strenuously working to reach a comprehensive political solution to the Yemeni crisis and bring Peace to the county through carrying out its role in fulfilling the peace process led by the United Nations, in reference to the concessions made by the government for the success of the armistice agreement.

The minister reiterated his government’s pledges under the truce to stop hostilities and facilitate the attainment of a political solution to the Yemeni crisis that meets the aspirations of the country’s people, urging Japan and the international community to apply pressure on the Houthi militia to complete the implementation of the truce agreement by lifting the seven-year siege of Taiz, Yemen’s third-largest city. Mubarak also called for the need to use the revenues from oil shipments coming from the port of Hodeidah to pay public sector salaries.

Mubarak added that the food crisis that the world is witnessing has exacerbated the existing food-security issues in Yemen and that the country has become “more threatened than ever before to reach the brink of famine.” He called on Japan to provide assistance through the provision of food commodities, especially imports of wheat, in order to enhance food security.

This article was originally published on Arab News Japan


Israel fires missile defenses near Lebanon after misidentification

Israel fires missile defenses near Lebanon after misidentification
Updated 19 May 2022

Israel fires missile defenses near Lebanon after misidentification

Israel fires missile defenses near Lebanon after misidentification
  • “Due to a misidentification, the air defense soldiers launched interceptors and as a result an alert was activated,” said the military

JERUSALEM: Israel activated its missile defenses on Thursday after mistakenly identifying a threat near the border with Lebanon, the Israeli military said.
The incident also set off air raid sirens in parts of northern Israel.
“Due to a misidentification, the air defense soldiers launched interceptors and as a result an alert was activated,” the military said.


Dubai announces plan to improve municipality and land department services, cut costs

Dubai announces plan to improve municipality and land department services, cut costs
The plan also seeks to promote productive partnerships with the private sector. (WAM)
Updated 19 May 2022

Dubai announces plan to improve municipality and land department services, cut costs

Dubai announces plan to improve municipality and land department services, cut costs
  • The restructuring plan comes as part of the government’s mission to increase productivity and develop comprehensive strategic plans to achieve the organizations’ objectives

Dubai’s government has announced plans to improve services in the municipality and land departments by 20 percent, while reducing operational costs by 10 percent, state news agency WAM reported.

The restructuring plan comes as part of the government’s mission to increase productivity and develop comprehensive strategic plans to achieve the organizations’ objectives, report added. 

The plan also seeks to promote productive partnerships with the private sector and create new business opportunities worth $2.723bln per year, according to WAM.

The restructuring plan for Dubai Land Department also aims to improve the competitiveness of Dubai’s real estate sector and improve operational efficiency by 20 percent.

WAM reported that the plan also has a focus on making Dubai one of the world’s highest ranked cities in real estate market indicators and enhancing investment in the sector. 

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and First Deputy Chairman of the Dubai Council, and Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and Second Deputy Chairman of the Dubai Council, met with Mattar Al Tayer, Commissioner-General for Infrastructure, Urban Planning and Wellbeing and Member of the Dubai Council on Wednesday to discuss the initiative. 

“The comprehensive restructuring plan of Dubai Municipality and Dubai Land Department forms part of Dubai’s efforts to transform itself into the world’s best city to live and work and ensure its services and operations keep pace with the evolving global environment,” Sheikh Hamdan said. 

“The teams in the two departments have a great responsibility to lead and manage Dubai’s strategic projects. We will be closely following their progress and supporting them to achieve their objectives.”


Amnesty demands FIFA pay $440m to Qatar’s ‘abused migrant workers’

Amnesty demands FIFA pay $440m to Qatar’s ‘abused migrant workers’
Updated 19 May 2022

Amnesty demands FIFA pay $440m to Qatar’s ‘abused migrant workers’

Amnesty demands FIFA pay $440m to Qatar’s ‘abused migrant workers’
  • FIFA should earmark at least $440 million to provide remedy for the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who have suffered human rights abuses in Qatar during preparations for the 2022 World Cup

LONDON: Rights group Amnesty International on Thursday urged football’s governing body FIFA pay compensation equal to the total 2022 World Cup prize money for migrant workers “abused” in host nation Qatar.
The call, backed by other rights organizations and fan groups, follows allegations that FIFA was slow to safeguard against the exploitation of workers who flooded into the tiny Gulf state to build infrastructure in the years leading up to the tournament that starts November 21.
“FIFA should earmark at least $440 million to provide remedy for the hundreds of thousands of migrant workers who have suffered human rights abuses in Qatar during preparations for the 2022 World Cup,” Amnesty said in a statement accompanying a report.
The London-based group urged FIFA president Gianni Infantino “to work with Qatar to establish a comprehensive remediation program.”
It alleged that a “litany of abuses” had taken place since 2010, the year FIFA awarded the 2022 tournament to Qatar “without requiring any improvement in labor protections.”
“Given the history of human rights abuses in the country, FIFA knew — or should have known — the obvious risks to workers when it awarded the tournament to Qatar,” said Agnes Callamard, Amnesty’s secretary general.
Amnesty said some abuses persist and described $440 million as the “minimum necessary” to cover compensation claims and to ensure remedial initiatives are expanded for the future.
The sum is roughly the total prize money for this year’s World Cup. Amnesty’s call was backed in an open letter to Infantino also signed by nine other organizations, including Migrant Rights and Football Supporters Europe.
When asked for comment, FIFA said it was “assessing the program proposed by Amnesty” for Qatar, highlighting that it “involves a wide range of non-FIFA World Cup-specific public infrastructure built since 2010.”
Qatar’s World Cup organizers said they have “worked tirelessly” with international groups for the rights of workers on stadiums and other tournament projects. Much of the criticism has however been directed at construction outside the official tournament where hundreds of workers are said to have died in the past decade.
“Significant improvements have been made across accommodation standards, health and safety regulations, grievance mechanisms, health care provision, and reimbursements of illegal recruitment fees to workers,” said a spokesperson for the organizers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy.
“This tournament is, and will continue to be a powerful catalyst for delivering a sustainable human and social legacy ahead of, during, and beyond the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022.”
Workers’ claims range from unpaid salaries, “illegal” and “extortionate” recruitment fees averaging $1,300 to secure jobs, and compensation for injuries and deaths.
Amnesty welcomed initiatives by FIFA and Qatar, including improvements made on World Cup construction sites and labor legislation reforms introduced since 2014.
Qatar in 2017 introduced a minimum wage, cut the hours that can be worked in extreme heat, and ended part of a system which forced migrant workers to seek employers’ permission to change jobs or even leave the country.
Workers can go to labor tribunals and more government inspectors have been appointed.
Foreign workers, mainly from South Asia, make up more than two million of Qatar’s 2.8 million population.
But Amnesty said only about 48,000 workers have so far been green-lighted to claw back recruitment fees.
It said the requested $440 million represents only a “small fraction” of the $6 billion in revenues FIFA is expected to make over the next four years, much of it from the World Cup.