Passengers ‘strip searched’ after baby found at Doha airport

Inside Hamad International Airport built in Doha

The women, who were on a Qatar Airways flight to Sydney on October 2, were subjected to an invasive search on the tarmac, after a newborn baby was found abandoned at the airport.

More than a dozen female passengers were subjected to "invasive" and "humiliating" internal exams in Qatar after a newborn infant was found abandoned at the Doha airport, Australian media have reported, in an incident the country's government protested as "offensive" and "grossly inappropriate".

She said the government has been liaising directly with Qatari authorities in both Doha and Australia, and is expecting to receive a report on the matter later this week. It is not something I have ever heard of occurring in my life, in any context.

The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said it had registered "serious concerns" with Qatari authorities over their handling of the incident.

Passenger Wolfgang Babeck told AFP women returned to his flight from Doha to Sydney in a "shell-shocked" state, having been told to remove clothing from the lower half of their bodies for an examination by a female doctor.

"One of them was in tears, a younger woman, and people couldn't believe what had happened", Babeck told ABC.

In June, Australian Aviation reported how Qatar Airways' share of passengers travelling to and from Australia leapt from just 3 per cent to 44.5 per cent in April.

"At this time the newborn infant remain unidentified but is safe under the professional care of medical and social workers".

"When I got in there, and there was a lady with a mask on and then the authorities closed the ambulance behind me and locked it", she said.

The woman said she took her clothes off and was inspected, and touched, by the female nurse.

When plane staff were told about the situation, they were horrified and said the pilots did not know why the aircraft had been delayed for three hours.

"Medical professionals expressed concern to officials about the health and welfare of a mother who had just given birth and requested she be located prior to departing HIA".

There are mixed reports as to whether the baby was alive or deceased.

British news website, The Guardian's Australian affiliate, was able to speak to one of the 34 passengers on the flight.

"Individuals who had access to the specific area of the airport where the new born infant was found were asked to assist in the query".

The fallout from a nightmarish experience for a group of women on a flight to Australia has become a diplomatic imbroglio with the Foreign Minister demanding an explanation from her Qatari counterparts.

The novel coronavirus pandemic has grounded many airlines' long-haul operations, including those of Australia's flag-carrier Qantas, while Qatar Airways has continued to fly many of its routes despite the downturn in demand.



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