More than a dozen buildings were evacuated and shut down by the authorities, forcing the mainly Asian and African workers to seek what shelter they could, including bedding down on the pavement outside one of their former homes; World Cup starts on November 20
Saturday 29 October 2022 08:52, UK
Qatar has emptied apartment blocks housing thousands of foreign workers in the same areas in the centre of the capital Doha where visiting fans will stay during the World Cup, workers who were evicted from their homes have said.
They said more than a dozen buildings had been evacuated and shut down by the authorities, forcing the mainly Asian and African workers to seek what shelter they could, including bedding down on the pavement outside one of their former homes.
The move comes three weeks before the start of the tournament on November 20, which has drawn intense international scrutiny of Qatar's treatment of foreign workers and its restrictive social laws.
At one building, which residents said housed 1,200 people in Doha's Al Mansoura district, authorities told people at about 8pm on Wednesday that they had just two hours to leave.
Municipal officials returned around 10.30pm, forced everyone out and locked the doors to the building, they said. Some men had not been able to return in time to collect their belongings.
"We don't have anywhere to go," one man told Reuters the next day, as he prepared to sleep out for a second night with around 10 other men, some of them shirtless in the autumn heat and humidity of the Gulf Arab state.
He, and most other workers who spoke to Reuters, declined to give their names or personal details for fear of reprisals from the authorities or employers.
Nearby, five men were loading a mattress and a small fridge into the back of a pickup truck. They said they had found a room in Sumaysimah, about 25 miles north of Doha.
A Qatari government official said the evictions are unrelated to the World Cup and were designed "in line with ongoing comprehensive and long-term plans to re-organise areas of Doha".
"All have since been rehoused in safe and appropriate accommodation," the official said, adding that requests to vacate "would have been conducted with proper notice".
FIFA did not respond to a request for comment and Qatar's World Cup organisers directed inquiries to the government.
Meanwhile, the city of Barcelona will not offer public viewing venues to watch Spain's games during next month's World Cup after its mayor said her city does not support holding the tournament in a dictatorship.
Spanish news agency EFE reports that Barcelona mayor Ada Colau rejected a request by an opposition party, during a city hall council session on Friday, to open a public venue for citizens to gather and watch Spain.
And elsewhere, Qatar has summoned the German ambassador over remarks by Germany's interior minister, who appeared to criticise the decision to award the World Cup to the Gulf Arab nation because of its human rights record.