Indian minister pledges to help abused nationals stuck in Qatar

Sushma Swaraj, Minister for External Affairs of India, addressing the UN in 2015. Credit: UN/Flickr

India’s External Affairs Minister has ordered an investigation into reports that two nationals in Qatar have been severely abused by their employer.

In a series of tweets yesterday, Sushma Swaraj said she is seeking to hold both their sponsor and the agent who sent them to Qatar responsible.

Swaraj was responding to a Times of India report about two expats who sought jobs in Qatar in October.

They said they were betrayed by their agent and ended up on an animal farm in which their employer beat them “mercilessly.”

According to TOI, one man said “it’s “better to be thrown in jail than suffer like we are suffering.”

The Indian embassy has not commented publicly on the matter, nor have any Qatari officials.

Human rights concerns

The news comes at a time when Qatar is leaning heavily on foreign labor to complete major construction projects ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

Because the laborers primarily come from poor Asian and African nations, rights groups have expressed concerns about exploitation of this vulnerable group.

Photo for illustrative purposes only. Credit: Simon Tull/Flickr

Qatar’s government has been working to improve conditions for the hundreds of thousands of men who comprise its working class.

But as explained in a recent documentary, many workers feel ostracized from society because they live outside of the city. By law, they are not allowed to reside in family-filled neighborhoods).

The low pay (usually no more than $400 a month) and long hours, as well as potentially unsafe working conditions also remain an issue.

Also yesterday, Swaraj tweeted:

Thoughts?