Rights body highlights human cost of Qatar blockade

Qatar’s NHRC receives mounting complaints from people affected by Saudi bloc’s decision to cut diplomatic and economic ties.

The human cost of the ongoing blockade of Qatar by three of its Arab Gulf neighbours is mounting on a daily basis, according to Qatar’s National Human Rights Committee (NHRC).

Hundreds of Qatari citizens living in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have had their lives abruptly uprooted after those countries cut ties with Qatar on June 5, accusing the emirate of supporting “extremism”.

Qatari authorities have repeatedly denied the allegations.

As part of the measures against Doha, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic and transport ties with Qatar and expelled Qatari expatriates. Saudi Arabia also closed Qatar’s only land border.

Many citizens affected by the ongoing rift have since filed complaints with the NHRC.

“We have been receiving over 100 complaints a day,” NHRC’s Saad al-Abdulla told Al Jazeera.

“In the first week we had 700 complaints. In the last four or five days the numbers have risen significantly.”

Most of the complainants have been forced to abandon businesses and careers built across borders.

READ MORE: Qatar-Gulf crisis – All the latest updates

“We have lost many customers already,” Abu Mohammed, who has operated businesses in Dubai for the past 25 years, said.

“We had invested heavily in building a huge clientele from all parts of the world. This is going to cost me a lot of money in the end.”

Qatari students studying in universities across the border have also been affected by the blockade, with some petitioning for a refund of their tuition fees.

“I want my money back,” said one third-year student at Dubai’s Jazeera University.

“How can I return to Dubai? What assurance do I have they won’t do the same thing again while I am in the middle of my studies?”

Inside Story – What’s the human cost of the Gulf row with Qatar?

NHRC says it has hired lawyers to take legal measures to restore the rights of aggrieved Qatari nationals.

They have also taken the matter before the UN Human Rights Council.

Migrant workers are also caught in the middle of the dispute. 

“Since the blockade started, migrant workers have been cut off from their properties and it also got more complicated when they cannot even transfer their salaries,” said Abdulla. 

Al Jazeera’s Mohammed Adow, reporting from Doha, Qatar, said: “Most of the people we spoke to have expressed fears that rights enjoyed by citizens of Gulf countries during the 35 years since the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) was formed could be lost for ever.

“They are urging governments in the region to resolve the crisis through dialogue.”