Low-wage migrant workers in Qatar have been forced to beg for food during the Wuhan Coronavirus crisis, The Guardian reported. Many of them have been left without a job and they have no means to earn a living. Under such circumstances, they have been forced to beg for food from their employers and charities. Qatar has one of the highest rates of per capita infection in the world and over 25% of those tested have been found to be infected in the past week, the vast majority of which were migrant workers.
The Qatar government has established a £656m loan scheme for companies to be able to pay their workers in quarantine or government mandated self isolation but The Guardian were told by some workers in the Industrial Area that they have been put on unpaid leave. “The company said they won’t pay us for April but they would give us [some money] for food, but we haven’t even got that … They gave us a tray of eggs and some oil a few days ago. That was all,” Feroz, a worker from India, told the newspaper. He has been stuck at Industrial Area for almost two months. “We are facing so many problems here. It’s like we are in jail.”
Rafiq, a cleaner from Bangladesh who lost his job in March, told the newspaper, “I don’t have much food left. Just some rice and lentils. It will last only a few days. What happens when this food finishes?” “My boss says he has no money. How about my family in the Philippines? They need my money … How will I get food? There is no one to give us. Even my boss is not giving [food],” said a Filipino beautician. Saidul, a Bangladeshi decorator, said, “I have spent all my savings. I am borrowing money from friends and relatives for food and rent. It’s very difficult to carry on without work … I’m not afraid of corona. The problem is there isn’t any work.”
The situation is similar across the Gulf Countries in the Middle East. Saudi Arabia, too, is struggling to contain the outbreak of the Coronavirus among its migrant population. According to its Health Ministry, migrant workers comprised over 76% of its more than 3000 new cases the previous week. “This is not surprising,” Ryszard Cholewinski, a senior migration specialist with the International Labor Organization, said. He added, “You’ve got the perfect storm, where migrants live and work in conditions that are more conducive to the spread of COVID-19.”