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Friday, June 25, 2021

Donations sought after hundreds displaced in Qatar labor camp fire

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Friday's fire in the Industrial Area
Friday’s fire in the Industrial Area

Update at 7pm on May 11: After a generous outpouring of support from Qatar residents as well as support from their employer, the expats affected by last Friday’s labor camp fire now have a sufficient supply of clothes, food and toiletries. As a result, volunteers say the donation drive has come to an end.

Volunteers in Qatar are appealing for food and clothing donations after a massive fire ripped through a labor camp in Sailiya on Friday, sending more than 400 expats fleeing to safety with little more than the clothes on their back.

Most of the men, who were primarily from Sri Lanka and Nepal, appear to have escaped without serious injuries.

Several sources, including a spokesperson from the Sri Lankan embassy in Qatar, told Doha News that no one was killed in the fire.

However, there have been unconfirmed reports that two men from Bangladesh died in the fire.

The cause of the blaze, which broke out in Sailiya camp 19 between 11am and 11:30am on Friday, is still under investigation. But one of the men living there told Doha News that it was sparked by an electrical fault.

Safety questions

He said he suspected the circuit was overloaded on Friday as most of the camp’s residents had the day off and “everyone was using power.”

He added that there were signs of problems before the fire as an electrical box had shorted out two days earlier.

After a camp supervisor was notified, an electrician was dispatched to inspect the problem. But he left without performing any repairs and said he’d return later to fix it, the man said.

“There was no fire safety,” he told Doha News, adding that most rooms housed between six and eight men.

Most of the men worked for Group Seven, which employees said contracts workers to clean and serve drinks in offices around Qatar. The company could not immediately be reached for comment.

Employees from several smaller firms were also said to be living in the same labor camp.

In the aftermath of the fire, the men were moved to temporary housing on Street 38 in the Industrial Area before being shifted again late last night to a new labor camp in Al Shahaniya in central Qatar.

Word of the fire had spread throughout Qatar’s Sri Lankan community by Saturday morning, said Hazim Hamza, one of the volunteers collecting donations for the men.

“They’ve lost (everything). All they have are the clothes they were wearing when they ran out,” he told Doha News.

He said the most pressing need is for dry food, toiletries and clothing, all of which can be dropped off at the Stafford Sri Lankan School off Salwa Road, near the Midmac Flyover.

What’s next

Speaking to Doha News, a spokesperson from the Sri Lankan embassy said he was going to the men’s new camp today to supervise the distribution of the expats’ April salary. He added that the employer had also promised a QR200 payment as compensation for their hardship.

He said that he is encouraging the men to return to work tomorrow, saying that fires can happen in any country.

“It’s a normal thing,” the spokesperson said. “They came here to work and earn money for their family.”

Friday's fire in the Industrial Area
Friday’s fire in the Industrial Area

However, one of the workers said some of the men involved are still on edge and want to return to Sri Lanka as they don’t trust the safety standards in Qatar.

The spokesperson said that while he never visited the Sailiya camp that caught fire, the embassy has inspected and approved the new accommodation, which he said included a fire extinguisher for every block.

Hamza described the new camp as “liveable.” He said he was thankful that casualties were minimized in this fire, but said the incident is nevertheless a reminder that some workers’ housing in Qatar is substandard.

“It should be a lesson for all other companies that house laborers (to ensure) all safety measures are in place,” he said.

Thoughts?

26 COMMENTS

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Student
Student
6 years ago

Fires in the summer, flooding when it rains, laborers whose burden keeps falling on a society wherein everyone is supposedly accounted for; year after year these things happen and we never learn. Just a shame really.

Gracie
Gracie
6 years ago

200 riyals for hardship? That’s so bad. I think this article needs more information on how to help / contact the volunteer groups

outdoorsboys
outdoorsboys
6 years ago
Reply to  Gracie

I’m sure that was a typo, bound to have been at least 2000……..

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago

No mention of where their company is going to house them now, I presume it was in their Employment Contract or do they just expect them to sleep rough somewhere?

Michael L
Michael L
6 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

I think Roti King in Al Jazeera petrol station still has a couple of spare beds ..

irobot
irobot
6 years ago

200 riyals to compensate for what they lost in the fire? I’m sure the company will claim a hefty sum from insurance
Govt officials should be blamed for not inspecting these premises to ensure health and safety measures are in place

Nibras Najeeb
Nibras Najeeb
6 years ago

Finally Doha News news reporting on the fire incident 2 days after it occurred. There was no media coverage of this incident in the local press until today. Most of the Sri Lankan expats got to know of this incident through a sri lankan channel reporting it : https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCYX9wPOfys

MIMH
MIMH
6 years ago
Reply to  Nibras Najeeb

Who cares about Sri Lankans, not as if they will complain or the embassy will help them.

Waveydavey
Waveydavey
6 years ago

The poor things didn’t have much to start with, now they have nothing. Just bloody awful.

Jimarchy
Jimarchy
6 years ago

Visited the place about two years ago, disgraceful. Off the beaten track and nobody cares. The people showing me around bragged that it wasnt covered by Civil Defence and not to worry…

Yacine
Yacine
6 years ago

“Speaking to Doha News, a spokesperson from the Sri Lankan embassy said he was going to the men’s new camp today to supervise the distribution of the expats’ April salary”???
Seriously? When was the employer planning to give them April’s salary? In July?

Muhammedh Naufer
Muhammedh Naufer
6 years ago
Reply to  Yacine

this is when the laborers are made to feel like “Hey at least you are getting the salary”

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago

*UPDATE* Group Sevens Operations Manager, Ima Gready, spoke to the press today reassuring the public that the companies Welfare Plan and BCP had ben activated. All workers have been relocated to the St Regis as per our BCP, and work is continuing with them with our contracted medical team and counsellors to ensure their health and wellbeing. Further we have made contact with all the workers families in countries to ensure them that their loved ones are safe and well. A spokesman for the Supreme Council of Social Wellbeing, Khalid Carenot, stated that they had enacted the major incident plan and had started the recovery process which included the rehabilitation of the scene and provision of appropriate emergency accommodation, meals and medical needs of those displaced by the fire. The MOI commented that a full investigation will be conducted and given the breaches of the Emirs laws regarding the amount of men cruelly stacked into each room that Group Seven and the Qatari Sponsor will be charged with applicable offences and may be facing severe penalties including terms of imprisonment. The Qatar Construction Union spokesman, Ido Care, reported that they had visited the staff and were extremely satisfied with the response from Group Seven and the Qatar authorities. In a surprise announcement by local man, Sheik J AlCaring, told DN that he was removing his bid for the Number plate with all the 7s in it, as he feels that 3 million riyals could be much better used to assist the displaced people then a silly piece of metal on my car,…. unfortunately the Qatari sponsor was unable for comment as he was on a flight to Belgium to take up the post of the Deputy Ambassador……….then I woke up ….

lol_guy
lol_guy
6 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

hahahaha…. you made my day…

Michael L
Michael L
6 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

I have a dream …

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

Offering Qr 200 as compensation was like adding insult to the damages and the injuries for this guys. If only the management there was pro active and done the required repairs and mantainance on time then this tragedy could have been avoided.

Pete
Pete
6 years ago

There is so much about this story that stinks to high heaven. They hadn’t been paid for April, the accommodation electrical system was inadequate…why?, the company is offering 200 (really!) for hardship. It get’s shrugged of with “ït’s a normal thing, fires can happen anywhere”. We should all be weeping

johnny wang
johnny wang
6 years ago
Reply to  Pete

The management too should be held responsible for keeping workers in such sub standard accommodation and not carrying out proper mantainance or having the right safety equipment and processes. Bad housing practices make for a very bad disaster waiting to happen. Time to wake up to this right now

mb
mb
6 years ago
Reply to  Pete

he said April salary… not march or February.
Be rationally

Pete
Pete
6 years ago
Reply to  mb

This story is dated 10 May. April salary is due on 30 April so it was 10 days overdue.

Marco
Marco
6 years ago

Doesn’t make the news for 2 days?? And what happened to the story about the dismissed Korean construction workers?

Daniel Schriefer
Daniel Schriefer
6 years ago

A decent company has an insurance for such cases and victims are compensated by the insurance. But, oh, this is Qatar.

James Christian Natividad
James Christian Natividad
6 years ago

Their should be a safety training’s to all who will live there, what is the use of the fire extinguishers if they don’t how to use it…

MnmL72
MnmL72
6 years ago

After having purchased a World Cup with a few bribes here and there, the govt of Qatar has dealt itself a bad hand at lying. Now the world knows qatar has more than enough money to accomplish literally anything. So by not treating the very same workers who are building their show with some human dignity, it is clear the problem is simply that they do not care. As long as it doesn’t make it in the news they are happy to sweep it under the rug.

This morning I had to “rescue” my maid’s son from the grips of a poorly run cleaning company where he lived, in the SLUM area near Sofitel. NO FOOD, NO WATER. After some negotiation we got his exit permit and I will be sending him home tonight with an air ticket I purchased.

This is a drop in the ocean of the slave labor camps around doha. If your stomach churns at the sight of this injustice, then I suggest we start voicing this concern more energetically. All you have to do is take pictures. Take them all day long. At the end of the day…publish them. Wherever. Facebook, instagram, twitter, google, media outlets.

Use hashtags about qatar, world cup, slave labor…all the words synonymous with this place.

Observant One
Observant One
6 years ago
Reply to  MnmL72

Warning my friend, Don’t say ‘ slave ‘ as Shabina gets most upset with the truth, and deletes you for being inflammatory, DN the upholder of human rights…

ShabinaKhatri
ShabinaKhatri
6 years ago
Reply to  Observant One

Deleting for trolling.

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