A delegation from the European Parliament has lauded Qatar not only for achieving huge progress in its labour reforms vis-à-vis the preparation and hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup but also for its humanitarian efforts to help Afghan refugees.
“Our visit here proves that Qatar values our inputs and want to work together to achieve the best outcome for workers not only now but for many years to come and we look forward to engaging with them further and of course checking again soon to see what further progress has been achieved over the coming months,” Marc Tarabella, vice-chair of the delegation for relations with Arab Peninsula and chair of the Sport intergroup – EU Parliament, told a press conference on Friday in Doha.
He said the abolition of the Kafala system, the safety measures and high-level standards of protection for all the workers, and the introduction of minimum wage in the country proved that Qatar is working hard to implement fast and effective labour reforms.
The delegation’s meeting with HE the Prime Minister and Interior Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdulaziz al-Thani on Thursday was “one filled with hope,” according to Tarabella.
He said the HE the Prime Minister made it clear that the process of reform does not end in the tournament next year but will continue long after 2022.
Tarabella urged colleagues and institutions in the EU Parliament who criticise and asking for some sanctions on Qatar to organise an official visit to the country.
“The (Qatari) authorities are open, an International Labour Organisation office is here,” we can say that that the evolution is very positive and we invite all people who want to come… but please don’t criticise without knowing… it is better to see than to criticise 5,000km from here.
“The awarding of the FIFA World Cup 2022 has accelerated the process of reform, the reforms are real, we can see, we can check, and we spoke about the salaries, the minimum wage, and also the security, the equipment of workers,” he said.
Tiziana Beghin, member of the Committee of the International Trade/Budget, and member of the Sport Intergroup – EU Parliament, said she was impressed not only with the high-level of technology that have been implemented in 2022 FIFA World Cup infrastructures but also in using them for humanitarian purposes.
“I want to underline that these people (Afghan refugees) are hosted in an infrastructure planned for the FIFA World Cup and is now being used for humanitarian help and supporting the humanitarian organisations so thanks a lot to the sport that can show the power and the role that it can play also in such important social issues,” she said.
“We visited Lusail city and I personally found great dignity in workers’ life. On labour reforms, the introduction of the basic salary, overcoming of the kafala system, for sure represent important milestones and I’m sure they will lead to greater equity and respect for human rights,” Beghin said.
Apart from labour reforms, she also lauded Qatar for providing the best possible accommodations for Afghan refugees, mostly families and children.
“These are facts. The children that we saw that are entertained in order not to crash in emotional desperation… we saw volunteers, we saw a real structure. We in Italy have to face the challenge of migration coming (mostly) from Africa, I can testify that it is not easy to receive so many people at the same time and we are not able to offer them such accommodation such clean and proper and safe accommodation,” she added.
Jose Ramon Bauza Diaz, member of the Committee on Foreign Affairs/Transport and Tourism and DARP delegation/chairman of the EU-Qatar friendship group – EU Parliament, shared the same view saying that “children were provided by almost everything that they should need”.
“You look at their (children refugees) faces it is so incredible, so impressed… and they were trying to reunite them with their families and relatives,” he said.
Diaz underlined the importance of continuous co-operation between Qatar and the EU in areas such as security is paramount, aimed at ensuring that Afghanistan does not become a safe haven for terrorism and to preserve regional stability.
“Second one, addressing to the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan is another area in which Europe and Qatar need to continue cooperating together… We also need to work with Qatar to ensure the respect of human rights in Afghanistan especially those of women and children.
“Third, the evacuation and resettlement of those fleeing Afghanistan which still continue today and will require a continuous cooperation between the EU and Qatar,” Diaz said.