Over 4,000 OFWs on forced leave without pay in Qatar

Published May 5, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Roy Mabasa

More than 4,000 overseas Filipino workers in Qatar were forced to take a leave of absence without pay by their respective employers following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, Philippine Ambassador to Doha Alan Timbayan said on Tuesday.


In an interview at the regular Laging Handa briefing of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Disease (IATF-EID), Timbayan said there are also 1,645 Filipino land-based workers in Qatar displaced by the outbreak.

“There were job displacements of OFWs here. The POLO (Philippine Overseas Labor Office) has verified 1,645 displaced land-based workers while 4,055 were forced to take leave of absence,” the ambassador said.

With more than 240,000 Filipinos deployed there, Qatar is one of the biggest destinations of OFWs in the Middle, next only to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and Kuwait. Many of these Filipinos are employed as domestic helpers and professionals.

While Timbayan did not mention if there are Filipinos infected with the disease, the online monitoring platform Worldometer puts the total number of COVID-19 cases in Qatar to 16,191 with 12 deaths and 1,810 recoveries.

With a relatively high number of COVID-19 cases vis-à-vis its population of less than three million, Qatar is strictly imposing social distancing even during the observance of the Ramadan.

Timbayan said the Qataris are observing Ramadan in their respective homes and only one mosque is open where no more than 40 are allowed to pray at any given time.