Thursday, February 25, 2021

Index – Abroad – Thousands of guest workers die in Qatar since Doha prepares for World Cup


At least 6,500 guest workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar in the last ten years since the Gulf country won the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

According to an article in the Guardian, this means that an average of 12 people a week have lost their lives.

But what has Qatar got to do with the deaths of South Asian workers? In December 2010, Doha won the right to host an international sporting event under controversial circumstances and immediately set to work to be a worthy host to the World Cup. Huge construction projects were launched: in addition to seven new stadiums, new hotels and a new airport were erected, new roads were laid and a new public transport system was developed.

And a new city was built for the World Cup final.

The Gulf countries prefer to employ foreign labor on construction sites, and Qatar is no exception, with South Asian workers arriving in large numbers due to World Cup projects. According to the British paper, although the death reports do not indicate the occupation or job of the deceased,

most likely most of them worked on construction sites and lost their lives in accidents or poor working conditions.

In most cases, however, natural death is cited as the cause of death.

According to Guardian information, 69 percent of workers in India, Nepal and Bangladesh have been diagnosed with natural death by Qatari authorities, which may be due to the Qatari authorities not making an effort to determine the exact cause.

Presumably not because those involved work in circumstances that are better not to disclose.

The Guardian reported in 2019 that the excruciating summer heat could have caused the sudden deaths of several guest workers, but since Cathars do not perform autopsies in such cases either, the natural death remains to be determined. This has also been found in 80 per cent of Indian guest workers who have died in the last ten years.

The Qatari authorities responded to the Guardian’s concerns in a statement. According to the communiqué, the number of deaths is proportional to the number of foreigners working in the country, and the data also include white-collar workers. He added that everyone, including foreign nationals, has access to free health care and that the mortality rate of migrant workers is already declining due to health and safety reforms introduced in the labor system.

In any case, the British paper complains about the opacity of the Qatari record of deaths, as well as the fact that there is no uniform system for this in the government, and different bodies have different data. And with that, the Guardian is suggesting that Doha is sweeping the situation of guest workers under the rug.

The committee organizing the Qatari World Championships has vowed that all deaths have been investigated and has always acted transparently, which is why it disputes the allegations concerning the number of deaths on construction projects. FIFA also spoke on the issue, stressing that there are fewer accidents on construction sites related to the World Cup than on projects in other parts of the world.





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