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Thu 26 Sep 2013 03:46 PM

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Qatar kicks out Nepalese envoy amid worker deaths report

Maya Kumari Sharma sacked; said to help The Guardian reveal 44 Nepali worker deaths in Qatar summer heat

Qatar kicks out Nepalese envoy amid worker deaths report
Window washers from Nepal return to ground after working on the curved facade of the Tornado Tower on October 23, 2011 in Doha, Qatar. (Getty Images - for illustrative purposes only)

The Nepalese government has recalled its ambassador to Qatar following a request from the Gulf state after several controversial comments relating to Nepalese foreign workers.

Maya Kumari Sharma has come under fire from Qatari authorities since she described Qatar as “an open jail” during an interview on the BBC in March.

Her sacking on Wednesday coincided with a report in The Guardian newspaper that said 44 Nepalese labourers had died during the summer while working on Qatar developments.

The report only detailed the deaths and torture claims of Nepalese workers, who make up a portion of the total foreign labourers in the country, and referred to numerous pieces of information received from the Nepalese embassy in Qatar.

The report received widespread media coverage internationally and was another embarrassing story for a country often criticised for “slavery” of foreign workers.

The Qatari ambassador to Nepal demanded Sharma be recalled in a formal letter sent to Nepalese Foreign Minister Madhav Prasad Ghimire on Wednesday, Nepalese media reported.

The ambassador said Sharma’s “controversial activities and remarks” could affect the bilateral ties.

The decision to recall her was made by the Cabinet on Thursday.

The Qatari Foreign Affairs Ministry had previously sought a clarification of her comment describing Qatar as an open jail. She had clarified her remark and apologised.

Migrant supports have claimed that Nepal, which receives a significant boost to its economy through remittances from foreign workers, is unwilling to act on “mounting” evidence that its citizens are being mistreated overseas. 

In March, the International Labour Organisation said Nepalese officials “were complicit in the trafficking for forced labour of its migrant workers.”

However, not all migrants in Qatar support Sharma.

According to The Quartz magazine, when a Nepalese worker criticised the embassy’s lack of consular support for Nepali migrants in May, she asked Qatari authorities to have him deported, attracting criticism from international human rights groups.

Joe 6 years ago

Qatar has turned a blind eye to worker abuses for years. Qatar needs to improve worker conditions and reform its sponsorship program, or face having the World Cup taken away and given to another country.

Good riddance Qatar 6 years ago

I am a Canadian expat working in Qatar and am so fed up with supporting Qatar's abuses by providing my expertise that I have given my notice and am leaving. I am going home back to Canada and a country that knows the meaning of equality and equal rights for all.
I am so ashamed of Qatar and disappointed how corrupt and arrogant easy money has made the people here.

Anon 6 years ago

Qatar should be banned from hosting the 2022 World Cup and any other international event until and unless they seriously abolish slavery and racism toward less fortunate peoples.

ivarmarku 6 years ago

Why blame Qatar it is the same situation in all Gulf countries for the labour force from third world countries, who need petro dollars for their economy and permit their nationals to be exploited.

Ronald 6 years ago

She was recalled, not sacked. Get your story straight for once.

Jayakar 6 years ago

Qatar should be banned from hosting the 2022 World Cup and hold the event in Dubai instead.

Mohamed 6 years ago

The Situation in the UAE is completely different . In the UAE we don't have such things . The labors have a daily break for 5 hours at the Midday time and they are all provided with water and food.

M. Siddique 6 years ago

Qatar should not bury its hand in Sands. Almost every expatriate in Qatar talks about its draconian Systems...where the employees have to get the Sponsors permission to leave the country even in case of emergency and quite often the Sponsor may not be available and they could not attend the emergency back home such as Sudden Death of relatives etc. It is high time Qatar learns from Sheikh Mohamed and Dubai as to how to treat foreigners as long as they are contributing to the nation.

mohammed 6 years ago

Its absolutely disgraceful humans need permission to leave the country. Its inhuman and definitely not Islamic. Qatar has to change.

Chris 6 years ago

This is a huge issue in the Gulf. Very happy to see that the World Cup is putting a bit of a spotlight on it. Hopefully some good will come of it for the sake of everyone in the region.