Qatar says it is building seven cities or work camps to house more than a quarter of a million migrant labourers.
It follows months of controversy concerning the country’s treatment of what are called “guest workers”, particularly those who are involved in the preparations for the 20 22 World Cup.
Ministers have said all seven cities should be built by the end of 2016.
Abdullah Saleh Mubarak al-Khulaifi, Qatari Labour and Social Affairs Minister:
“This is a major problem, the Ministry of Labour and Social affairs is facing in Qatar. The huge number, the influx of expat workers, guest workers as we call them, and our delay, nationally, of accommodating properly such a population, I think it was a mistake that we are trying to remedy now.”
But human rights organisations accuse Qatar of not doing enough. Besides the squalid living conditions which are still endured by thousands, its controversial “Kafala” visa system which has been described as modern slavery needs to be abolished.
Minky Worden is Director of Global Initiatives, Human Rights Watch:
“The conditions for migrant workers in Qatar are not good. There is an abusive exit visa system which ties them to their employers and if their employers are abusive then they are in big trouble, they can’t leave and they can’t seek employment elsewhere.”
With recorded deaths last year running at one every two days among Nepalese construction workers, work conditions need an urgent review.
(Bangladeshi, Indian and Sri Lankan deaths were not included)
However Qatar says things have improved and promises the old “Kafala” visa will be replaced.
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