Mass immigration of Asian workers to suit Qatar needs

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Dubai, Jan 7 (UNI) The Labour Ministry's demand for manpower will bring tens of thousands of workers from Asian nations to Qatar in the next few months.

Labour minister Sultan Al Dosari was in Bangladesh yesterday to sign an agreement that would facilitate recruitment of workers to the country, Gulf news quoted official source as saying.

Mr Dosari would sign a similar protocol with his Sri Lankan counterpart on January 9 to recruit at least 55,000 labourers from the Island nation in the next 10 months.

The country's demand for manpower for its booming oil and gas industries and construction sector matches Asian governments' efforts to cut unemployment rates and draw worker remittances.

Escalating living costs, unpaid overtime and difficult working and living conditions have, however, resulted in agitations by workers in the past year, which resulted in illegal arrests and forcible deportations, a human rights activist said on the condition of anonymity.

The loopholes in Qatari labour legislation allowed sponsors and employers to overlook their obligations, he said, adding, ''We have asked for major amendments, in particular with regard to the sponsorship rules, at least to allow abused workers to change sponsors without facing repatriation or arrest.'' An additional protocol with Nepal has also been signed, which aimed to ensure Qatar's commitment to improve Nepalese workers' rights and recruitment conditions.

Qatar currently hosts 313,000 Indians, 266,000 Nepalese, 130,000 Sri Lankans and more than 100,000 Filipinos, a majority of whom are low income workers.

UNI XC SYU RS1910

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