As reported previously on this platform (Qatar 7 May), migrant workers in Qatar, who make up the majority of the country’s workforce, appear to have been disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic in the country, which reported 1,595 new cases on 7 June. Qatar’s overcrowded labor camps are a “fertile ground for transmission of COVID-19,” according to a health expert with the World Bank (CBS 15 May).
In Doha’s central prison, detention conditions have deteriorated, according to detainees interviewed by Human Rights Watch (HRW). Reports denounce the lack of antiseptic gel and the limited access to soap and water. Due to the overcrowding in the buildings, the social distancing is impossible to maintain. HRW called out the government on the outbreak in the central prison, to which Qatar’s communications office responded shortly after. They declared that the report of an outbreak was false, and that “prisoners were being provided with health services ‘equal’ to the rest of the country’s residents.”
On 17 May, Qatar announced that individuals not wearing a protection mask in public spaces would be arrested and jailed for up to 3 months.
On 8 June, 250 Bangladeshi were released from prisons or detention camps in Qatar and taken to Bangladesh on a special flight.
- Human Rights Watch, “Qatar: Reported Covid-19 Outbreak in Central Prison,” 18 May 2020, https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/05/18/qatar-reported-covid-19-outbreak-central-prison
- AlJazeera, “Qatar confirms coronavirus in jail but denies widespread outbreak,” 19 May 2020, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/05/qatar-confirms-coronavirus-jail-denies-widespread-outbreak-200519011620288.html
- Middle East Eye, “Coronavirus: Kuwait and Qatar say wear face masks or face jail,” 17 May 2020, https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/coronavirus-kuwait-and-qatar-say-wear-face-mask-or-face-jail
- Migrants-Rights Org, “Qatar approves draft law amending some provisions of the Labour Law,” 4 June 2020, https://www.migrant-rights.org/2020/06/qatar-approves-draft-law-amending-some-provisions-of-the-labour-law/
- The Daily Star, “1,011 Bangladeshi workers return by special flights,” 8 June 2020, https://www.thedailystar.net/backpage/news/1011-bangladeshi-workers-return-special-flights-1910773
- Arab News, “Migrant workers protest in Qatar over unpaid wages,” 23 May 2020, https://www.arabnews.com/node/1678936/middle-east
- CBS News, “Coronavirus spreads “exponentially” in Qatar’s labor camps,” 15 May 2020, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-in-qatar-spreads-exponentially-in-migrant-worker-labor-camps/
- Global Detention Project, “Immigration Detention in Qatar,” https://www.globaldetentionproject.org/countries/middle-east/qatar
- A Migrant Worker from Bangladesh Rests in his Bedroom at a Private Camp Housing Foreign Workers in Doha, Qatar, on 3 May 2015, (Marwan Naamani, AFP, Getty Images, “Coronavirus Spreads “Exponentially” in Qatar’s Labor Camps,” CBS News, 15 May 2020, https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-in-qatar-spreads-exponentially-in-migrant-worker-labor-camps/)