Nepal recalls Qatar envoy over migrant comments

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 September, 2013, 11:14am

Nepal yesterday recalled its ambassador to Qatar after she compared the Middle Eastern emirate to an "open jail" for thousands of Nepali migrants who face abuse from employers there.

Maya Kumari Sharma made the remarks six months ago to the BBC Nepali service, but they were reproduced yesterday in a front-page investigation by Britain's Guardian newspaper into the deaths of Nepali migrants on projects connected to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

Nepal's Communication Minister Madhav Paudel said Qatar had complained about the comments of the ambassador, who was appointed by the former Maoist government a 18 months ago.

"The government decided to recall Sharma because her dealings were not according to diplomatic decorum," Paudel said.

The Guardian investigation found that 44 Nepali migrants had died in just over two months during the summer in Qatar. It detailed how some had not been paid for months, were denied drinking water and had their passports confiscated.

Hundreds of thousands of Nepalese go abroad every year to work, most of them in the Gulf or Southeast Asia. Qatar alone is home to about 300,000 Nepali workers, according to government figures.

In 2011 Nepal recalled its ambassador to Saudi Arabia after he was accused of stealing insurance money from the family of a migrant worker who died there.