QATAR: In another inhuman move, Qatar has evacuated apartment complexes that were home to thousands of foreign workers.
As stated by workers who were evacuated from their homes, the heart of Doha, the capital city, where visiting soccer fans will stay during the World Cup, is being emptied for the fans.
Workers said that officials had ordered the evacuation and shutdown of more than a dozen structures.
However, a Qatari official claimed that the evictions had nothing to do with the approaching World Cup.
A worker’s evacuation
The protest comes less than four weeks before the World Cup, which begins on November 20 and has attracted intense international scrutiny for Qatar’s treatment of foreign workers and stringent social policies.
In the Al Mansoura area of Doha, authorities informed residents in one building that they had just two hours to vacate. Residents estimated that the building housed 1,200 people.
As per witnesses, municipal officials arrived again, ordered everyone out of the building, and shut the doors. Some of the men had been unable to return in time to get their stuff.
Evacuation has badly affected the lives of the foreign FIFA World Cup workers. Workers from Asia and Africa were particularly compelled by the change to seek out any refuge they could find. Some of them even had to erect signs on the sidewalk in front of one of their old residences.
“We don’t have anywhere to go,” said one worker after the evacuation, as he prepared to sleep outside for the second night amid the Gulf Arab state’s autumnal heat and humidity.
He, along with the majority of other employees who spoke to the media, refrained from providing their names or other identifying information out of concern for possible repercussions from the law or their employers.
Five men were nearby, packing the rear of a pickup truck with a mattress and a small refrigerator. They claimed to have located a room in Sumaysimah, which is located around 40 kilometres (25 miles) north of Doha.
The evictions, according to a representative of the Qatari government, were planned “in line with ongoing comprehensive and long-term plans to re-organize areas of Doha” and had nothing to do with the World Cup.
The official stated that “all have since been rehoused in safe and appropriate accommodations” and that “requests to vacate would have been conducted with proper notice.”
FIFA, the organisation in charge of soccer in the world, did not react to a request for comment, and the World Cup organisers in Qatar contacted the government with questions.
Three million people, or about 85% of Qatar’s population, are foreign workers.
Many of the evicted people hold jobs as drivers, day labourers, or contract workers who are responsible for finding their own homes, unlike those employed by large construction companies who live in camps that can house tens of thousands of people.
A worker claimed that while foreign workers with families were unaffected, single guys were the target of the evictions.
Most of them were in areas where the government had rented out buildings to house World Cup fans. Buildings in Al Mansoura and nearby areas are listed on the organisers’ website, where flats are listed for rent between $240 and $426 per night.
The Qatari official claimed that city authorities have been enforcing a 2010 ordinance that forbids “workers’ camps within family living areas,” which includes much of central Doha, and gives them the authority to evict people.
Vani Saraswathi, Director of Projects at Migrant-Rights.org, which advocates for migrant workers in the Middle East, claimed that the evictions “keep Qatar’s glitzy and wealthy facade in place without publicly acknowledging the cheap labour that makes it possible.”
“This is deliberate ghetto-isation at the best of times. But evictions with barely any notice are inhumane beyond comprehension, “she further added.
Mohammed, a driver from Bangladesh, claimed he had lived in the same neighbourhood for 14 years until the municipality gave him 48 hours to vacate the villa he shared with 38 other people on Wednesday.
The World Cup is quickly approaching, he claimed, and the workers who created the infrastructure for Qatar to host it are being pushed away.
“Who made the stadiums? Who made the roads? Who made everything? Bengalis, Pakistanis. People like us. Now they are making us all go outside.”
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