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Ailyn Agonia
Many Workers had a narrow escape after a fire broke out in a labour camp at Shahaniya on Friday afternoon. However, many of the workers residing in the camp lost their precious belongings in the blaze.
According to sources, the camp houses more than 500 labourers, including about 320 Filipinos.
Filipino community in Qatar came together on Saturday to appeal for more help and support for the affected Filipino workers.
An eyewitness at the camp said the fire started at around 4:30pm and badly affected the second and third floors of the housing complex. Immediate response from firefighters had helped to bring the blaze under complete control, he added.
"We were immediately shifted to another location after the fire. Many of us were not able to save any of our personal belongings. In fact, I lost all my belongings. On Saturday morning we were brought back to the camp and put up in another building," he said.
Philippine Labour Attach` David Des Dicang told Qatar Tribune that there were no casualties but many of the victims lost their personal belongings including passports. Majority of the victims are employed as cleaners and tea boys, he added.
Dicang, along with other officials of the Philippine Embassy Doha and a number of community leaders, visited the labour camp on Saturday morning to assess the extent of the damage and to ascertain the immediate assistance required.
"We visited the camp and brought clothes, food stuff and toiletries. We have also mobilised some community members to extend assistance. We spoke with the company's management and learned that they have extended assistance to the victims by distributing QR200 per worker for their urgent requirements. We also urged them to transfer the affected workers to a better accommodation," Dicang said.
The official said financial aid will be provided by the Philippine Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) while the Embassy has offered consular services assistance to nationals who lost their passports.
Calls for assistance to the fire victims went viral on the social media on Saturday, particularly among Filipino expats, after some of the victims managed to reach out to community members. Individuals and groups pledged donations both in cash and in kind.
On this matter, the labour official said that the community should properly mobilise and distribute the donations. He said among the immediate needs of the victims “ based on their assessment “ are clothes, toiletries, blankets and food.
Roussel Reyes, Charge d'Affaires at the Philippine Embassy Doha, assured the community of the Embassy's full support for the Filipino victims.
œThe Embassy received the fire report last night and today we went to their accommodation to check their condition and distributed food and clothing to those affected by the accident. The Embassy assured them it will provide the necessary consular assistance in case such as the loss of passports and that it will attend to their concerns involving their well-being, ? Reyes said.
œWe also thank the members of the Filipino community in Qatar for the assistance that they have given to their fellow Kababayans in this time of distress, ? he added.
Visiting the site at Al Shahaniya, the president of Indian Community Benevolent Forum (ICBF), Devis Edakkalathur said that many employees, most of them are expatriates from Asian countries, have lost personal belongings and travel documents in the fire accident. œThe ICBF team has taken initiatives to provide all the support to workers involved in the incident. We distributed enough food to workers on Saturday.
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