Defiant Qatar continues to expose migrant workers to coronavirus

Migrant laborers work at a construction site in Doha in March 26, 2020 file picture. — Reuters

Saudi Gazette report

JEDDAH — As most of the workers — citizens as well as residents — are staying at home in other Gulf Cooperation Council member states over coronavirus fears, migrant laborers building stadiums for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar are still working in crowded construction sites.

In the screaming headline “Despite coronavirus, it's 'business as usual' for World Cup workers in Qatar,” The Guardian, a UK daily, brought to the fore the heightened risk the expatriate workers face of contracting the coronavirus infection at their crowded workplaces.

Earlier this week taking note of the news reports and following its own investigation, Amnesty International, a global human rights organization, had castigated the Qatari authorities over their indifference to the gross human rights violations.

“As the world struggles to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, migrant workers trapped in camps such as those in Qatar are at particular risk of exposure to the virus, Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s Deputy Director of Global Issues, had said in a stinging rebuke.

The Guardian report follows a number of similar reports highlighting the plight of poor migrant laborers in Qatar and the callous attitude of the authorities who continue to turn a blind eye to the continuous exposure of these workers to the deadly virus despite the fact a vast majority of the infected people in the country are construction workers.

"The majority of (coronavirus) cases in Qatar to date have been located in the Industrial Area," the government had admitted in a Reuters' query earlier this month.

“I worry a lot about getting the virus and wear gloves and a mask at work but it is not enough. “Only God is enough,” a Kenyan construction worker was quoted by The Guardian as saying.

“I use a face mask, which I bought myself. Those who don’t have a mask cover their mouth with a piece of cloth,” said a Nepalese laborer building a car park, according to the report.

Last week, the Qatari authorities announced a slew of measures banning on all forms of gatherings but despite an almost total shutdown of gyms, cinemas, shopping malls and banks, the ruling appears not to apply to construction workers and others in the private sector.