Qatar sets up support fund for migrant workers

Doha: Qatar said Wednesday it has set up a support fund for foreign workers who run into difficulties, such as not being paid, the latest in a series of UN-backed labour reforms.

Doha state media said the fund would “support and care for workers, secure their rights and provide a healthy and safe work environment for them”.

It is the latest reform announced by the World Cup 2022 host, which has come under intense international pressure over its treatment of migrant labourers.

Earlier this week, Doha said it had implemented the near abolition of the exit visa system, which requires foreign workers to obtain their bosses’ permission to leave the country.

The changes are part of a three-year agreement signed by Qatar last November with the UN’s International Labour Organization to oversee reform.

Despite some changes, Qatar continues to face criticism from humans rights groups.

Amnesty International recently published a report highlighting workers who had gone unpaid and were left “desperate and hungry”.

Such workers would fall under the remit of the new fund.

“This fund could bring hope to hundreds of migrant workers who have been ripped off by abusive companies,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty’s deputy director for global issues.

“Although it remains to be seen how the law will be implemented in practice, this is a welcome step towards meeting Qatar’s promises to improve the labour rights of its migrant workers,” he added.