World Cup: Workers are evicted in Doha – 10/28/2022 – Market

Qatar has emptied apartment blocks housing thousands of foreign workers in the same areas of downtown Doha where visiting fans will be staying during the World Cup, workers who were evicted from their homes told Reuters.

They said more than a dozen buildings had been evacuated and closed by authorities, forcing workers, mainly Asians and Africans, to seek whatever shelter they could — including sleeping on the sidewalk outside one of their former homes.

The move comes less than four weeks before the start of the world football tournament, which kicks off on November 20, and which has drawn intense international scrutiny over Qatar’s treatment of foreign workers and its restrictive social laws.

In a building that residents said housed 1,200 people in Doha’s Al Mansoura district, authorities told people around 8 pm on Wednesday that they had just two hours to leave.

City officials returned around 10:30 pm, forced everyone out and locked the building’s doors, they said. Some men failed to make it back in time to collect their belongings.

“We have nowhere to go,” one man told Reuters the next day as he prepared to sleep for a second night with about 10 other men, some of them shirtless, in the Gulf Arab country’s autumn heat and humidity.

He and most other workers who spoke to Reuters declined to give their names or personal details for fear of reprisals from authorities or employers.

Nearby, five men were loading a mattress and a small refrigerator into the back of a pickup truck. They said they found a room in Sumaysimah, about 40 km north of Doha.

A Qatari government official said the removals were unrelated to the World Cup and were designed “in line with comprehensive and long-term plans to reorganize areas of Doha”.

“Since then, everyone has been relocated to safe and appropriate accommodation,” the official said, adding that eviction requests “would have been conducted with due notice.”

FIFA did not respond to a request for comment and Qatar World Cup organizers referred questions to the government.

About 85% of Qatar’s three million people are foreign workers. Many of the evictees work as drivers, day laborers or have contracts with companies, but are responsible for their own accommodation – unlike those who work for large construction companies who live in camps that house tens of thousands of people.

One worker said the evictions targeted single men, while foreign workers with families were not affected.

A Reuters reporter saw more than a dozen buildings where residents said people had been evicted. Some buildings had the electricity turned off.

Most were in neighborhoods where the government has rented buildings to accommodate World Cup fans. The organizers’ website lists buildings in Al Mansoura and other districts where apartments are advertised for between $240 and $426 a night.

Some workers said they had suffered serial evictions.

One said he was forced to move buildings in Al Mansoura in late September, only to be moved 11 days later without notice, along with about 400 others. “In a minute, we had to move,” he said.

Mohammed, a Bangladeshi driver, said he had lived in the same neighborhood for 14 years until Wednesday, when the municipality told him he had 48 hours to leave the village he shared with 38 other people.

He said the workers who built the infrastructure for Qatar to host the World Cup are being sidelined as the tournament approaches.

“Who made the stadiums? Who made the roads? Who made everything? Bengalis, Pakistanis. People like us. Now they’re forcing us to leave.”

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