Human rights organisation Amnesty International has warned of the dangers of a lockdown in migrant worker labour camps in Qatar.
Amnesty’s comments are based on reports of a Covid-19 outbreak in a number of construction camps, leading to workers being quarantined in their quarters.
Steve Cockburn, Amnesty’s deputy director of global issues, said: "Labour accommodation camps are notoriously overcrowded, and lack adequate water and sanitation, meaning workers are inevitably less able to protect themselves from the virus. Workers’ proximity to one another in cramped camps also does not allow for any type of social distancing.Â Â
"The Qatari government must ensure that human rights remain central to all attempts at prevention and containment of the Covid-19 virus, and also that all people have access to healthcare, including preventive care and treatment for everyone affected, without discrimination."
Amnesty aims to prevent further marginalisation of migrant workers during the pandemic, and asks for those stationed in Qatar to be able to access healthcare and sick pay.
The organisation has repeatedly called on Qatar to improve human rights for foreign workers before the 2022 World Cup. Qatar has pledged to abolish its kafala system and exit visas.
Image: Workers in Doha, Qatar (Giuseppemasci/Dreamstime)
Having inspected labour camps in both Qatar & India. I am far more concerned about a COVID-19 outbreak in the Indian camps.
Qatar does have issues with some of the labour camps, especially lower-tier subcontractors. But on balance most 2022 project related camps are reasonable. They are not perfect, but standards have improved during the last 8 years. Plus Qatar has the medical facilities and resources to contain and treat any virus spread.
Unfortunately, India has, multiple social issues, poverty and overcrowding issues to deal with, outside of the construction industry. In my experience, construction labour camps (colonies) are uninhabitable at the best of times. But the system of blind eyes, corruption and progress at all costs, means open and honest inspections will never be allowed to be conducted. Let alone be reported and those responsible held to account.
I fear for the workers (and their families) that live in the Indian labour camps and slump dwellings.
Just an observation from somebody who has seen both and tried to report on the issues.
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