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07 May 2020 – Qatar

Volunteers Working for Qatar Charity Preparing Meals for 4,000 Migrant Workers, (Karim Jaafar, AFP,
Volunteers Working for Qatar Charity Preparing Meals for 4,000 Migrant Workers, (Karim Jaafar, AFP, "Qatari Charity Feeds Expat Workers in Virus Limbo," 16 April 2020,

With more than 17,000 cases of Covid-19, Qatar has the highest infection rate in the Gulf. Most cases concern migrant workers, who make up 95 percent of the country’s workforce. Since 2010, in preparation for the 2022 World Cup, there has been an important increase in the numbers of migrant workers, in particular in sectors such as construction, hotel, and domestic work.

Most of these workers reside in a work camp near Doha, an industrial zone that was placed under quarantine. There were reportedly shortages of food during the first days of the confinement. The NGO Qatar Charity distributed meals to some 4,000 migrant workers, but the total number of residents in the camp is estimated to be several tens of thousands. The conditions in the work camp are particularly worrying because migrants do not have the space to socially distance and most of them do not have access to health care or proper sanitation.

Many migrant workers were arrested and deported to Nepal, according to Amnesty International. They were told that they were being taken to screening centres, and that they would return to their accommodation later. Instead, they were taken to detention centres, where ‘’they were kept in abominable conditions for several days’’, as reported by Amnesty International.

On 1 April, a coalition of rights groups, including and Amnesty International, issued a joint letter “urging Qatar to take adequate steps to protect migrant workers amid the COVID-19 crisis.” The letter, which was also sent to the other Gulf countries, made the following recommendations:

1. Ensure that all workers, quarantined or otherwise, whose living conditions leave them particularly vulnerable to infection, are tested and provided with appropriate medical treatment, and that undocumented worker can seek medical treatment without fear of detention. All workers should have access to adequate housing facilities, including a facility to isolate themselves if necessary, as well as water and sanitation, so they can effectively protect themselves;
2. No one, including migrant workers, is detained for violating quarantine;
3. Migrant workers who are unable to work, either due to preventive quarantine or testing positive for COVID-19, continue to receive their full wages;
4. Provide the public with information to ensure that migrant workers, including domestic workers, do not face discrimination or stigma in relation to the COVID-19 virus;
5. Ensure domestic workers are provided with access to timely and adequate protective measures and healthcare and receive sick pay if they are unable to work due to illness.