Decent Conditions

KATHMANDU, September 27, 2013 (AFP) – Rights groups urged South Asian governments Friday to demand proper protection for their migrant workers amid outrage over the deaths of dozens of Nepalis on projects linked to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. While Nepal’s government said it would not try to halt the flow of migrant workers after a newspaper investigation into their conditions, activists said the blame should not only rest with employers in the Gulf.

Millions of people from impoverished parts of the sub-continent work in Gulf states such as Qatar and Saudi Arabia, sending home remittances that are crucial to their families’ welfare and to their nation’s finances.

Qatar alone is home to about 300,000 Nepali workers, according to government figures, most of whom are drawn from impoverished rural areas.

The vast majority are working on construction projects and are hired by Nepal-based employment agencies that operate under licence from the government and are meant to adhere to regulations on working conditions.

Buddhi Bahadur Khadka, a spokesman for the labour ministry in Kathmandu, said Nepalese officials based in the embassy in Doha did vet employers to ensure they follow “standard guidelines” but admitted there were proble