Rights group concerned for Gulf citizens amid fallout

Forcing 11,387 citizens of Saudi, Bahrain and UAE from Doha amid Gulf rift is a step against freedom, rights group says.

Staff speak with passengers at Hamad International Airport in Doha
The NHRC said thousands of mixed Qatari and Gulf families are affected [Reuters]

Doha, Qatar – Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC) has expressed concern for the wellbeing of thousands of nationals of Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) living in Doha, and for Qataris living in the Gulf region, in the wake of a major diplomatic fallout.

Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE, along with several other countries, on Monday severed ties with Qatar, claiming that Doha was funding banned armed groups. Qatar strongly rejects these charges.

The three Gulf states also ordered Qatari citizens to leave the countries and demanded their nationals living in the peninsula return.

At a news conference held on Thursday in the Qatari capital, Doha, the NHRC said it was alarmed over the “violation of human rights”, with measures against Qatar issued on Monday including recalling citizens.

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“These steps were clear and blatant violations of human rights that impacted people’s freedom of movement, freedom to work, access to health and the right to property,” said Ali bin Smaikh al Marri, NHRC chair.

“These steps result in tearing up families, disrupting businesses and interrupting students’ education across the region.”

Al Marri estimated that 8,254 Saudi, 784 Emirati, and 2,349 Bharani citizens live in Qatar.

“All of them will be forced to leave their jobs or face punishment and legal consequences by their governments,” he said. 

While Qatar has not asked Saudi, Emirati or Bahraini citizens to leave Doha, the three countries demanded Qatari nationals leave as they announced a series of punishing measures.

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The UAE, for instance, gave Qataris 14 days to leave.

Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE gave Qatari diplomats just 48 hours to leave.

Families often intermarry, businesses and and governments employ nationals from neighbouring Gulf Cooperation Council countries and students enroll in universities in all four nations.

Al Marri’s office was set to send a report on Thursday afternoon to Saudi Arabia, UAE and Bahrain detailing the consequences of their actions. 

He also promised to correspond with human rights organisations in European capitals.

The measures against Qatar also included the closing of airspace, land borders and maritime territories.

National airlines of the three countries involved have halted flights to and from Doha, causing confusion and chaos at airports.

Source: Al Jazeera