Migrant worker death toll exceeds 6,500: report

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More than 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar as the nation prepared to host the 2022 World Cup, The Guardian reports.

The report cites government data from migrant workers’ home countries, including India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The data has been compiled since Qatar won the World Cup in 2010. According to the report, there were an average of 12 deaths per week.

FIFA awarded the World Cup to Qatar amid widespread concerns about human rights abuses and the treatment of migrant workers. Amnesty International has since documented the conditions under which workers are “exploited” and “subjected to forced labor”.

“They cannot change jobs, they cannot leave the country and they often wait months to get paid,” said a report by the human rights organization.

Guardian estimate: Actual death toll “significantly higher”

According to The Guardian, 2,711 workers from India, 1,641 from Nepal, 1,018 from Bangladesh, 824 from Pakistan and 557 from Sri Lanka have died working in Qatar since 2010. The Guardian estimates that the real death toll from migrant workers is “significantly higher”. as the data given are limited to the countries listed.

The nation of fewer than 3 million people depends on 2 million migrant workers to man its workforce. According to the report, the Philippines and Kenya are among other nations that send migrant workers to Qatar.

The listed causes of death are electric shock, blunt injuries from falling from a height, and suicide. Most deaths are classified as “natural” citing heart or respiratory failure, according to the report.

Daytime temperatures in Qatar can be up to 120 degrees in summer. Usually played in summer, the World Cup in Qatar will take place in November and December due to the stifling heat.

Workers walk towards the construction site of the Lusail Stadium, which is being built for the upcoming 2022 FIFA World Cup, during a stadium tour in Doha, Qatar, on December 20, 2019. (REUTERS / Kai Pfaffenbach)

Massive nationwide construction project including a new city

Nick McGeehan of labor rights group FairSquare Projects told The Guardian that building world championships accounts for a large part of the death toll.

“A very significant part of the migrant workers who have died since 2011 were only in the country because Qatar was given the right to host the World Cup,” he said.

Qatar has built or is building seven major stadiums in addition to major infrastructure upgrades, including roads, hotels and an airport, in preparation for hosting the World Cup. The opening and closing games will take place at the Lusail Iconic Stadium in Lusail, a city that is being built from scratch ahead of the World Cup.

Qatar: death toll in expected range

The Qatari government did not deny the Guardian’s findings and described the death toll as “expected” in a statement released.

“The death rate among these communities is in the expected range for the size and demographics of the population,” the statement said. “However, every life lost is a tragedy, and every effort is spared to prevent every death in our country.” . “

FIFA also made a statement to The Guardian.

“With the very strict health and safety measures in place … the frequency of accidents on construction sites for the FIFA World Cup was low compared to other major construction projects around the world,” the Guardian said in a statement.

FIFA did not provide the Guardian with any data to support their claim.

Why do workers risk these conditions?

According to Amnesty International, migrant workers are looking for work in Qatar to escape poverty and unemployment at home. It describes dirty living conditions with eight workers living in a single room when they arrive. Workers are sometimes promised a salary only to receive a lower wage on arrival.

The group spoke to workers who had agreed to hire fees between $ 500 and $ 4,300 for agents they owed prior to starting their work in Qatar.

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