France ‘mobilized’ over four nationals stranded in Qatar

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The French authorities are “fully mobilized” to resolve the situation of four French nationals stranded in Qatar, the French ministry of foreign affairs said on Wednesday, according to AFP.

“We multiplied steps and actions to try to resolve these cases, very different from each other,” ministry spokesman Romain Nadal said.

The men include French-Algerian football player Zahir Belounis, football trainer Stephane Morello; and entrepreneurs Nasser al-Awartany and Jean-Pierre Marongiu.

Belounis, who went to Qatar on a five-year contract with al-Jaish club, has been prevented from leaving since February after he filed a lawsuit for 18 months' worth of unpaid wages, Reuters reported, quoting local newspaper the Doha News.

The French official said Belounis case was now on “the right track.”

Last week, the world players' union FIFPro said the prevention of Belounis from leaving Qatar was a violation of human rights.

“We are of the view, and the FIFA regulations are clear, that if a player has a dispute with his club, he should be able to continue to play while the dispute is resolved,” Brendan Schwab, head of FIFPro's Asia division, told Reuters.

“In this case, not only can the player not continue his career, he cannot even move.”

The French official said the case of Morello was over and that the trainer was allowed to leave the oil rich country whenever he wanted.

“Mr. Morello who displayed his wish to stay in Qatar is now free to travel back and forth as much as he wants thanks to our continuous efforts,” Nadal said.

Regarding Awartany, the Qatari ministry of foreign affairs told the French ambassador that it was hoping for a quick solution to be able to grant him an exit visa, AFP reported.

The other businessman, Marongiu, is reportedly held in Qatar for “multiple reasons” and has started a hunger strike, AFP reported, quoting his family.

“His health did not seem affected [by the hunger strike]” Nadal said, following various visits to Marongui by members from the French Embassy.

(AFP and Reuters)