Qatar reassures India over migrant workers abuse

The plight of Indian migrant workers was discussed when Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi met with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani.

Qatar has reassured India that labour reforms will improve the conditions of more than half a million Indian migrants.

This reassurance follows the concerns of abuse raised by Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

A joint government statement said the plight of Indian workers was discussed when Modi met with Qatar's Emir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al-Thani.

"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," the statement issued by the prime minister's office read.

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

Qatar is home to 630,000 Indian nationals, the single largest group of migrants in the country which has a population of two million.

Many work in low paid construction jobs - building stadiums and other infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup.

During a two day visit to Qatar, Modi addressed Indian labourers in Doha, assuring them he would present their concerns to Qatari authorities.

He said: "I am aware of the issues you are facing. I will talk about it when I meet the authorities.

"If you have some issues on changing some laws and regulations, I can assure you that I will work with you all to bring about these changes."

Qatar has been under increasing scrutiny over the plight of migrant workers employed to build infrastructure as Qatar gears up to host the world's largest sporting event.

In March, Amnesty International reported migrant workers living in squadlid conditions, having their salaries withheld for months and their passports confiscated by employers.

The International Labour Organistion said Qatar is making progress towards ending forced labour and improving migrant working conditions, but added that the real test will be whether it enforces new legislation from December.

The new Qatari law abolishes the Kafala sponsorship system - which prevents migrant workers from changing jobs or leaving the country without their employer's permission - and removes all curbs on worker movements.

Migrants will no longer be forced to continue a job if there is abuse or exploitation, but domestic workers are excluded from this law.

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