Doha: According to several news reports from various Qatari sources, several hundred Asian migrants working as domestic staff, drivers, cooks and farmers are stranded in Saudi Arabia — potentially illegally — after their Qatari bosses or employers were ordered out of the kingdom, a rights group has said.
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, as reported by the Peninsula Qatar.
Other local sources pointed out that as many as 100 to 150 Indians from the State of Goa in Western India as well as another 150 to 200 workers at the minimum from Kerala could also be affected, who were working as drivers or mechanics or doing other kinds of manual labor, including cooks and farmers.
IndiaScribes.com has not been able to confirm exactly how many Indians or for that matter workers from the State of Goa could be affected, but reliable sources said the number of affected Goan workers who are jobless could at least be around 100.
“There are a lot of migrant workers affected by this decision,” said committee chairman Ali bin Smaikh 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 which 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.
With an angry Saudi Arabia, along with some other Gulf countries, cutting off ties with Qatar on Monday over alleged support to Islamists and Iran, the regional power play in West Asia has put India in a spot, reported the Indian Express.
With 7 million Indians in the Gulf (6 lakh in Qatar), India now has to navigate the faultlines in the region. Sources told The Indian Express that if the situation worsens, both Ministers of State in the Ministry of External Affairs, General (retired) V K Singh and M J Akbar, could be dispatched with the interlocutors to these countries.
An immediate issue which India faces is the movement of workers in the region, as Qatar Airways will find itself isolated after the Saudi-led alliance’s decision to impose a travel ban. Many Indians use Qatar Airways — estimates suggest about 24,000 per week — to travel to Doha and other places in the region. This will be a big challenge for the Indian government to navigate, sources said.
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