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NCE Live News Updates Monday 18 November 2013: Qatar construction workers exploitation call to action; Typhoon aid effort continues

This morning brings more news from the Philippines as the UK’s military vehicles arrive to lend their support after last week’s typhoon but there’s worrying news from elsewhere abroad this morning as work formally begins on Word Cup stadiums, Amnesty International calls on construction firms working in Qatar to take action over what it says is widespread and “serious exploitation” of workers.

7.45am: Qatar’s construction sector is rife with abuse and its workers are suffering “serious exploitation” and firms working there need to take action to prevent further abuse, according to a new report by Amnesty International.

The Dark Side of Migration: Spotlight on Qatar’s construction sector ahead of the World Cup report, published as the construction process is poised to start on the Fifa World Cup 2022 stadiums there, reveals what it says is widespread and routine abuse of migrant workers – in some cases amounting to forced labour.

“It is simply inexcusable in one of the richest countries in the world, that so many migrant workers are being ruthlessly exploited, deprived of their pay and left struggling to survive,” said Amnesty International secretary general Salil Shetty.

“Construction companies and the Qatari authorities alike are failing migrant workers. Employers in Qatar have displayed an appalling disregard for the basic human rights of migrant workers. Many are taking advantage of a permissive environment and lax enforcement of labour protections to exploit construction workers.”

In Qatar, migrant construction workers often work for small and medium sized enterprises subcontracted to major companies who in some cases fail to ensure they are not exploited, Amnesty added.

“Companies must ensure that migrant workers employed on construction projects linked to their operations are not being abused. They should be proactive and not just take action when abuses are drawn to their attention. Turning a blind eye to any form of exploitation is unforgivable, particularly when it is destroying people’s lives and livelihoods,” said Shetty.


7.40am: Aid agency Care International’s emergency response teams were yesterday ramping up relief efforts in remote areas of the Philippines devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.

Care deputy emergency director David Gazashvili, who is leading Care’s efforts in the town of Ormoc, said the situation in the Philippines was more challenging than Haiti after 2010’s catastrophic earthquake.

“The remoteness, flooding and debris everywhere in the affected areas means that simple journeys can take days,” said Gazashvili. “The widespread magnitude of the damage means limited to no access by land or air and no lines of communication or electricity up and running.”

An estimated 11.8M people have been affected by Typhoon Haiyan, which is believed to be the strongest storm ever to make landfall. Some 3,976 people were confirmed dead as of this morning.

Nearly 250,000 homes were destroyed or damaged by the storm, displacing more than 920,000 people.

Care is appealing to the public for $12M (£7.5M) to assist 200,000 people in some of the hardest-hit communities, starting with the provision of food, shelter and other emergency assistance.  Visit Care International for more details and to donate.


7.30am: HMS Daring and its helicopter have been surveying the outlying areas of the Typhoon-hit Philippines that have yet to be reached by aid organisations.

The flight crew flew from Daring on six reconnaissance missions over remote areas for signs of destruction, covering a total of 48 islands.

From the images that came back, the destroyer’s command team have now identified several areas that are desperately in need of aid. Bantayan Island, Binuluangan Island, Gigante Islands, Pande Azucar Estancia on Panay, and Concepcion Island have all been devastated by the storm, with little left in the way of housing, infrastructure, fresh water and food.

Aerial imagery taken from the Lynx show flattened housing, scattered possessions, large vessels blown onto shorelines and the word “help” spelt out in palm leaves on the beach, said the Royal Navy.

“We were all shocked by the images that came back and are unanimous that these people are very much in need some of the stores and equipment I now have on board,” said Daring commanding officer commander Angus Essenhigh.

“Many of the areas we surveyed had not been heard from since the storm struck and it was vital that we carried out a clear assessment of exactly where this aid was needed most. The ship will now arrive [today] when we will determine exactly what is required by the islanders and begin to deliver it.”


7am: The Canal and River Trust this week opened up Camden Lock to visitors ahead of maintenance work to repair the lock gates took place.

Some £130,000 is being spent by the Trust on refurbishing Hampstead Road Lock – also known as Camden Lock – in Camden. Work involves replacing both sets of lock gates, brickwork repairs, repointing and timberwork.

Hampstead Road Lock is a twin lock on the Regent’s Canal. The locks were constructed between 1818 and 1820 by James Morgan and it is the only twin lock remaining on the canal.

The open day was the first in a series from the Trust allowing access to its sites, and visitors were allowed into the lock chamber during the event.

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