A group of migrant labourers who have worked without pay for 18 months on of Qatar's most prestigious real estate projects are facing serious food shortages, according to Amnesty International.
The group includes 60 Nepalis, plus Chinese, Nigerian, Philippine, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi nationals, all of whom were working on the Al Bidda Tower in Doha's central business district. The building has been dubbed 'Qatar's Home of Football' as it houses the headquarters of a number of football-related organisations - including the Qatar Football Association.
The workers have been working on the fit-out of the 38th and 39th floors of the skyscraper.
Amnesty International’s secretary general visited the workers’ camp in the al-Sailiya industrial area in mid-November, and subsequently asked the Ministries of Labour and Interior to address the lack of payment and squalid living conditions in the workers' living quarters as a matter of priority.
In a statement that coincided with International Migrants Day, Salil Shetty, secretary general, said:
“It is now one month since we visited these men and found them living in desperate conditions. But their ordeal has not ended. They have not been paid for nearly a year and can’t even buy food to sustain themselves on a day-to-day basis. They also can’t afford to send money back home to their families or to pay off debts.
The Qatari government must step in now and end this crisis. The men have told us they simply want to collect the unpaid wages they are owed and to leave the country. The Ministries of Labour and Interior must deliver that as soon as possible. Doing so will signal that the government really means what it says about protecting workers’ rights.”
One of the Nepali workers on the site told Amnesty International that his sister committed suicide several months ago due to financial problems. He had not been able to send money home to his family for months, and was unable to return home for the funeral.