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GCC Blockade violation of Human Rights

Qatar has been trying its best to keep people unaffected by the ongoing blockade imposed by Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. It has also been appreciated for the same internationally. But it would be closing eyes to the reality if we deny that it has affected people residing in the country greatly.

The report issued by United National Office of High Commissioner for Human rights (OHCHR), following its November mission testifies the same. The mission held from November 17 to 24 at OHCHR included meetings with some 20 governments, civil societies as well as people affected by the blockade with the objective of understanding the scenario.

A copy of the report issued by OHCHR was sent to the National Human Rights Committee of Qatar (NHCR). As per the declaration made in context to the report by head of NHRC, Ali Bin Smaikh al-Marri yesterday, stated that the report serves as a documented proof that GCC blockade is not just unethical and arbitrary but also illegal as it is clear infringement of the human rights.

He stated that “This report shows without a spec of doubt that these procedures undertaken by blockading countries are not merely diplomatic severing of relations, they are not just an economic boycott,” in fact, “These are unilateral, abusive, arbitrary measures that are impacting citizens and expats in Qatar.”

The disclosures made referring to the OHCHR report clearly suggested the measures taken to impose blockade are much more than a diplomatic tension but a well-planned economic warfare led by Saudi-Arabia. To meet their selfish rivalry they have staked the life of not only Qatari citizens but also expats from various countries residing in Qatar.

People in Doha celebrated the report as a victory of human rights of the people residing in the country as this may prove as an official recognition of injustice that they have experienced for several months, by United Nations institution.

Despite recognition by Amnesty International earlier in June 2017, accusing Gulf States toying with lives of people there have not been paid much heed by the GCC countries. Hopefully this report will bring an end to their arbitrary agendas and the ongoing injustice on the people residing in Qatar.

 

 

 

Qatar Airways/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The decision by Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt and Bahrain to suspend all flights to Doha is causing considerable disruption and frustration for Qatar travelers.

With schools coming to a close and Eid Al Fitr around the corner, the busy summer travel season draws near. And many expats and nationals have already seen their flights canceled.

Sanjiban Ghosh/Flickr

Hamad International Airport

This is because Emirates, Etihad, Gulf Air, Egyptair, Air Arabia, Saudia and Fly Dubai have ceased operations to and from Hamad International Airport for now.

Additionally, Qatar Airways has been forced to cancel flights to these countries.

So residents hoping to fly with the national carrier to these places will also need to make other plans.

How to get a refund

All of the airlines that have suspended flights are offering passengers a refund or the opportunity to re-route.

Clément Alloing/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

While some customers are choosing to wait and see whether the diplomatic situation eases in the coming days, many have decided to cash in their tickets.

Some said they are opting to book with Qatar Airways instead, as direct flights out of Doha to non-boycott destinations are still operating normally.

Photo for illustrative purposes only.If you want to opt for a refund, here are the contact details you need to get your money back:

Etihad: Customers are being asked to call +971 2599 0000, or visit‎ etihad.com to request a refund.

Emirates: Customers who booked their tickets through a travel agency should contact their agents. Customers who booked with Emirates directly can process refunds for their tickets at www.emirates.com/refund or contact their local Emirates office.

Fly Dubai: Passengers who have purchased tickets for travel between Dubai and Doha are advised to call +971 600 54 44 45, the flydubai travel shop in Doha on +974 4 4227350/51 or their travel agent. Passengers can also send a private message on Facebook to arrange a refund for any unused tickets.

jbarcena

Photo for illustrative purposes only

Air Arabia: Customers can call Air Arabia’s call center on +971 6 5580000 or visit www.airarabia.com.

Gulf Air: Passengers should contact the Gulf Air Worldwide Contact Centre on +973 17373737 or visit the airline’s website gulfair.com for further information.

The airline says it’s offering “alternative options, including full refunds on unused tickets and free re-booking to the nearest alternate Gulf Air destinations.” However, we have heard that some passengers are being charged a US$50 cancellation fee.

Saudia: Passengers should call 44440121. The airline says that it has waived all ticket restrictions (Rebooking / Rerouting / Refund and No-show ) for affected passengers holding confirmed tickets via Doha.

Egyptair: Customers who booked through a travel agency should contact their agents. Customers who booked with the airline directly can process refunds for their tickets by contacting the Doha office (+974 44356020 / 44356040.)

Finally, those booked with Qatar Airways to any of the affected countries can also get a refund. Passengers can call 4022 0072 or contact their nearest Qatar Airways office for more info.

Have your travel plans been affected by the Gulf dispute? Were you able to get a refund for your tickets? Let us know at [email protected]

Gage Skidmore/ flickr

US President Donald Trump

Updated to reflect that there is no longer a ban on OFWs traveling to Qatar from the Philippines.

US President Donald Trump approves of the recent action taken against Qatar by its Gulf neighbors, and actually appears to have taken credit for it.

In a series of tweets yesterday, Trump said his recent visit to Saudi Arabia is “already paying off” in terms of fighting “the horror of terrorism.”

“Leaders pointed to Qatar – look!” he added.

The statements came from his personal account, not his presidential one. It remains unclear whether they represent the US government’s stance, as Qatar is a longtime ally.

Contradiction

If it does, the remarks would be an about-face from the supportive tone taken by diplomats and the US Secretary of State just a day earlier.

Cognizant of the fact that Qatar hosts its largest air base in the region, these parties urged a swift resolution to the Gulf dispute.

U.S. Air Force

A dozen 2,000-pound joint direct attack munitions sit inside a warehouse at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar. The bombs were built by hand by airmen from the 379th Expeditionary Maintenance Squadron’s Munitions Flight.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon declined to comment on the tweets, but said that the US military is grateful for Qatar’s support.

And officials said earlier this week that air campaigns in Syria and Iraq against ISIL would continue to be carried out from the Al Udeid base.

Closed borders

On Monday, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the UAE announced the severance of diplomatic ties with Qatar, something they also did in 2014.

But in an unprecedented move, they ordered Qatari citizens to leave their countries within two weeks.

QNA

For illustrative purposes only.

Additionally, the nations barred their own citizens from visiting Qatar, and have closed off air, land and sea borders to the nation.

Egypt, Yemen and the Maldives have also entered the dispute. They have sided with Saudi Arabia and the others, who say Qatar is fomenting instability in the region by supporting terrorism.

Qatari officials have dismissed these claims repeatedly.

Speaking to CNN yesterday, Qatar’s foreign minister said his nation has actually been working to protect the world from potential terrorists.

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Abdulrahman Al Thani said:

“We are promoting for peace, we are promoting for open diplomacy, we are promoting for dialogue. Qatar is promoting for education, we are creating jobs for the people in the Middle East. We are giving them better hope, we are replacing the weapons with pens when we are educating young children in the refugee camps.”

He added that the entire dispute was ignited after QNA was hacked last month.

At the time, inflammatory statements attributed to the Emir upset many in the Gulf. Though officials debunked these as made-up, the GCC states don’t appear to believe this.

FBI officials are helping Qatar investigate the incident and suggested yesterday that Russian hackers may have been involved. It remains unclear whether they were state-sponsored.

Spiraling crisis

Despite Qatar’s foreign minister saying “Right now it’s business as usual,” the crisis continued to spiral yesterday. In addition to Trump’s tweets, key developments include:

Qatar Airways closed down in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain

Both nations have revoked the national carrier’s license to operate and ordered it offices closed within 48 hours, according to the Saudi Press Agency.

Qatar Airways/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Bahrain’s news agency added that passengers who have tickets to or from Qatar arrange for a refund from the airline as soon as possible.

For its part, Qatar Airways says it is operating its routes as normal, except that flights to Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt have been suspended until further notice.

That amounts to more than 30 canceled Qatar Airways flights to and from Doha, as well as a several more from Gulf carriers.

The Philippines barred workers from going to Qatar (but then changed its mind)

Officials said this was a precaution, but the move had been criticized by many OFWs in Qatar as an overreaction.

3dom/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Speaking to media yesterday, Labor chief Silvestre Bello had said:

“We are foreseeing a possible problem in Qatar. For example, we know for a fact that Qatar does not produce its own food. If anything happens that they run out of food and food riots will take place, definitely our OFWs (Overseas Filipino Workers)… will be the first victims,” he said.

Jordan partially cuts off ties with Qatar

Jordan officials said they are downgrading relations with Qatar for the sake of “regional stability.”

Paul Keller/Flickr

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Jordan also revoked Al Jazeera’s license to operate in the country. Saudi Arabia did this a few days ago, and the channel continues to be blocked in the UAE as well.

Thoughts?