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Nepal recalls envoy after she called Qatar 'open jail'

Published: 26th September 2013 09:13 PM  |   Last Updated: 26th September 2013 09:13 PM   |  A+A-

By PTI

Nepal on Thursday recalled its ambassador to Qatar following a controversy over her remarks calling the emirate an "open jail" for thousands of Nepali migrants who face abuse and exploitation from employers there.

Maya Kumari Sharma made the remarks in an interview with the BBC Nepali service six months ago, but they reappeared today in a front-page report by 'The Guardian' on the deaths of Nepali migrants on projects related to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

"The government has formally recalled controversial Nepali Ambassador to Qatar, Maya Kumari Sharma," Himalayan Times reported.

Sharma, who was appointed by the former Maoist government in May last year, had said that Qatar was an "open jail" for Nepali workers during the interview, which led her into controversy.

According to government figures, Qatar is home to about three lakh Nepali workers.

The Guardian investigation said "thousands of Nepalese, who make up the single largest group of labourers in Qatar, face exploitation and abuses that amount to modern-day slavery, as defined by the International Labour Organisation, during a building binge paving the way for 2022".

It said that "44 Nepali migrants had died in just over a month during the summer in Qatar". The report detailed how some had not been paid for months, were denied drinking water and had their passports confiscated.

"The overall picture is of one of the richest nations exploiting one of the poorest to get ready for the world's most popular sporting tournament," it said.

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