Doha, July 4: With the boycott of Qatar by the surrounding Muslim countries, a social crisis is visible in this tiny nation in the Middle East. The immediate impact was seen on the job sector where many people have lost their employment. Fear and uncertainty have gripped them about their future.
Bishop Camillo Ballin, apostolic vicar of Northern Arabia that covers Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, observed that many Catholic Christian families have already migrated to safer places in the recent weeks.
Most of the Catholics are immigrants to Qatar who came in search of jobs. Now they are facing the threat to their jobs due to an atmosphere of political uncertainty.
In June, following the visit of US President Donald Trump to Saudi Arabia, the Mid-East countries have severed their ties with Qatar on the pretext that it supported terrorist activities, and maintained diplomatic relations with Iran.
The political observers see this as a prelude to the final battle for supremacy in the Middle East between the Wahhabis and the Muslim Brotherhood. Saudi Arabia and three other Arab countries have extended the deadline for Qatar by another 48 hours to accept their demands or face additional sanctions. The original deadline expired on Monday.
Qatar however called the demands an ‘affront to international law’ but expected to respond to them in writing.
According to Asia News, Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammad bin Abdul Rahman Al Thani in fact has handed a letter signed by Qatar emir to the Kuwaiti government, which is acting as mediator.
At present, “there are still no definite numbers” about how many Christians have left the country, Ballin said. However, it is certain that “several families have already gone” and that the number of more than 300,000 Catholics before the crisis “could soon drop.”
The local Catholic community is made up of “economic migrants and labourers, largely from Asian countries, especially India, the Philippines, Bangladesh and Pakistan.”
Qatar's resident population is made up of 313,000 Qatari citizens and 2.3 million expatriates, fluctuating considerably depending on the season and job availability.
Overall, Catholics in Qatar number more than 300,000 (divided into four rites: Latin, Maronite, Assyrian-Malaysian, and Assyrian-Malankarese) out of a total population of about 2.6 million (2017).
Non-Arab foreigners represent the vast majority of the foreign population. Indians are the largest group (650,000), followed by Nepalis (350,000), Bangladeshis (280,000), Filipinos (260,000), Egyptians (200,000), Sri Lankans (145,000) and Pakistanis (125,000).