Nearly 60 percent of Qatar’s population live in ‘labor camps’

Indians are the single largest group of migrants in the Gulf state

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Almost 60 percent of Qatar’s 2.4 million population live in what the government calls “labour camps,” a census shows.

Indians are the single largest group of migrants in the Gulf state, making up 630,000 of the country’s population of 2.5 million.

The figure from the Qatari ministry of development planning and statistics, from data gathered in April last year showed that 1.4 million people live in what the department officially designates as “labour camps” – the vast majority of them male.

That works out at just over 58 per cent of the country’s population.

Qatar’s enormous natural gas reserves and grandiose construction projects have long fueled the country’s huge demand for foreign labor. In 1986, just 373,000 people lived in the emirate.

On a weekend visit to Qatari capital Doha, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi raised concerns of abuses towards his expat countrymen. In turn, Qatar reassured him that labour reforms would improve their working conditions.

A joint government statement said Modi met with Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani on Sunday and discussed the plight of Indian migrants.

“The Qatari side briefed the Indian side on the reform in labour laws which would protect the interest of skilled and unskilled labour in Qatar,” said the statement issued by the prime minister’s office.

Modi thanked the Qatari leadership for “hosting the Indian community and for ensuring their continued welfare and safety.”

Qatar, which will host the football World Cup in 2022, has been condemned by human rights groups, including Amnesty International, for providing “squalid and cramped accommodation” for its large migrant workforce.

Last week, 11 people were killed and 12 injured when a fire ripped through a camp housing labourers working on a tourism project in the southwest of the country.

Qatar has responded to the criticism by building new workers’ housing complexes, including the $825 million “Labour City” south of the capital Doha, which incorporates shops, cinemas and a cricket stadium

The complex can house up to 70,000 foreign workers and is one of seven workers’ “cities” being developed which will accommodate almost 260,000 people in total.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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