Human rights workers vanish after World Cup probe

A HUMAN rights group says two British staff have been “kidnapped” in Qatar while researching the treatment of migrant workers in the Gulf state.
Ghimire Gundev and Krishna Upadhyaya, pictured, are missing. Picture: GettyGhimire Gundev and Krishna Upadhyaya, pictured, are missing. Picture: Getty
Ghimire Gundev and Krishna Upadhyaya, pictured, are missing. Picture: Getty

Researcher Krishna Upadhyaya, 52, and photographer Ghimire Gundev, 36, from London, were due to fly out of Doha on Sunday but failed to arrive at the airport.

The Global Network for Rights and Development (GNRD) said the pair had “feared they might be in danger” after being harassed by police and had decided to leave the country when they disappeared.

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The Foreign Office said it was aware of reports of one missing British national. GNRD, based in Norway, said it “holds Qatari authorities responsible for the security and safety of its kidnapped employees”.

Ala Abu Dakka, a programme manager at the non-governmental organisation, said staff were working tirelessly to locate their colleagues.

He said: “It has been four days now and we are still putting pressure on the Qatari authorities to disclose where they are.

“We do believe that they have an idea of where they are because they were being followed by plainclothes police.

“They were being harassed by police before they disappeared. They were very worried and feared they might be in danger.

“We told them to leave Qatar for their safety to avoid the situation we have now. They were due to fly to London and on to Norway.

“We are very concerned about their welfare. We think they are being investigated in unknown circumstances.”

The pair had been looking in to reports of poor treatment of Nepalese migrant workers in the lead-up to the Qatar World Cup in 2022.

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They arrived in the country on 27 August and were due to stay for up to one week but reported their fears on Saturday.

Mr Gundev’s family in both Nepal and Europe called for the immediate release of the “loving father of two”.

In a statement, they said: “He is a kind-hearted man who is always interested in helping the disabled and poor.

“He is indirectly or directly involved personally in many social-welfare works in Nepal, helping people understand their human rights.”

Mr Upadhyaya, from London, joined the NGO in May after previously working for Amnesty International UK, while Mr Gundev was employed on a short-term contract for the project.

Qatar has been strongly criticised for the working conditions of its 1.4 million migrant labourers as it rushes to spend £123 billion on new infrastructure ahead of the World Cup.

More than 400 Nepalese, the majority working on construction projects, died in the Gulf state between January 2012 and May 2014. Qatar has claimed that none of the deaths occurred on World Cup sites.

GNRD last night said that it was prepared to sue the Qatari authorities if the staff are not released.