Migrant workers left without accommodation, money as Gulf crisis fallout continues
Asian migrants working as domestic staff and farmers are stranded in Saudi Arabia—potentially illegally—after their Qatari bosses were ordered out of the kingdom, a rights group said on Wednesday.
The workers from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Nepal have been left without accommodation and money, said the head of Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee. “There are a lot of migrant workers affected by this decision,” said committee chairman Ali bin Shaikh Al-Marri. Many of those affected were farmers who drive livestock between the two countries, said Marri.
“Usually the workers travel with Qataris—many Qataris employ farmers and travel with their domestic workers and drivers,” he told a news conference. “The workers were not allowed to travel into Qatar and now they are living illegally in Saudi Arabia and do not have basic needs. They have no shelter and cannot access money.”
On June 5, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain announced they were suspending all ties with Qatar over accusations the emirate supports extremist groups—a claim Doha denies. The four states closed their airspace to Qatari carriers and sealed off the emirate’s only land border with Saudi Arabia, a vital route for its food imports. They also ordered all Qataris to leave and their own nationals to return home.
Qatar uses a sponsorship system that ties workers to their employer. It was not immediately clear why the workers were left behind and why they did not have the right papers to return. Some 12,000 camels and sheep are reportedly being forced to trek back to Qatar from Saudi Arabia because of the crisis.