Migrant workers are worst hit especially in Gulf countries that are not willing to take care of them, even in the trying times of corona virus. Reports are coming in that low wage migrant workers in Qatar have been reduced to begging for food from their employers or even charities. Most of them have not been able to return to their native countries.
Qatar’s ambitious World Cup plan gave employment to many migrants from Bangladesh, Nepal and India too. The tiny but rich Arab country, Qatar is till date, home to over 2 million migrant workers. Currently, it has reported one of the highest rates of infection per capita in the world with almost 18,000 cases in a small population of just 2.8 million. Sadly, over 25% of those tested for the virus in the past week have been found to be infected; the vast majority of which are migrant workers.
The government that is run by the autocratic Royal family of Qatar is saying that literally all cases are mild and therefore there is nothing to worry about. While the government claims that they have asked employers to continue to ensure their migrant workers are provided with accommodation and food, ground reality remains that the migrant population is dying with hunger.
The worst hit of these are actually undocumented workers and entered Qatar on free visas. They have survived through short-term or casual work, without a regular employer to provide food and housing. These migrants are unaccounted for and their safety seems to come under no one’s jurisdiction. At least the Qatar government is not willing to take responsibility for their well being.
Domestic workers who work as servants with families are also being harassed. While they refuse to stay-in and work with families, they are not being taken care of by their supervisors either, who have forcibly got them to sign and forgo their right to a salary. The situation is somewhat similar in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, countries that heavily depend on migrant workers but do not have defined labour laws that protect the rights of these workers abroad. There continues to be discrepancy in assurances given by Qatar and what the workers have to say. The Industrial Area is in lockdown. It is home to huge migrant population. It said to have been receiving supplies from the government and loans to the tune of £656 million has been given to employers to ensure, they take care of migrant workers. But, in reality the money has been siphoned to protect themselves from the fallback of the economy and migrant workers have been left to die. It is high time the representative nations do something to get the migrant population sent back home, before innocent people lose lives to the callousness of the rich and not at the hands of the virus.