More than 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since being elected host of the FIFA World Cup ten years ago. These nationals from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka were employed as construction workers in various projects surrounding the World Cup in the country.

The issue of the deaths of migrant workers in Qatar has come up in a long investigation by the British daily The Guardian. The Guardian reports from official sources in the five Asian countries that people were seen cheering on the streets of Qatar on the night of December 2010 after the World Cup was awarded to them. Since that night, at least 12 migrant workers from these five South Asian countries have died in Qatar every week.

Official data from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka show that 5,926 migrant workers from these countries died in Qatar between 2011 and 2020. The Pakistani embassy in Qatar says 624 Pakistani workers died in Qatar between 2010 and 2020.

Since the right to host the World Cup in 2010, 1,017 migrant workers from Bangladesh, 2,611 from India, 1,641 from Nepal, 624 from Pakistan and 558 from Sri Lanka have died in Qatar.

Countries around the world, including the Philippines and Kenya, send large numbers of workers to Qatar. The death toll of migrant workers from these countries in Qatar has not been included in the Guardian’s list. The list also does not include the number of migrants who lost their lives in Qatar in December last year. That’s why the death toll from migrant workers in the country could be even higher, the Guardian reported.

Qatar has conducted unprecedented construction in the last 10 years; Most of which were in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in the country. In addition to seven new stadiums, dozens of other huge projects have been completed or are under construction. These projects include the construction of a new airport, roads, highways, public transport, hotels and a new city; The next football World Cup will be held in that city.

The Guardian says 36 of the dead migrant workers were directly involved in the construction of the World Cup stadium in Qatar. However, Qatar said 34 migrant workers had died outside the work of the World Cup event organizing committee. The Guardian’s investigation reveals Qatar’s failure to protect 2 million migrant workers. The country has even failed to investigate the cause of the high-mortality rate of young workers.

Nick McGihan, director of the FairSquare project, a non-governmental organization working for the rights of Gulf workers, said that although no death or casualty figures were recorded by profession, many of the migrant workers who died in Qatar were working on World Cup infrastructure projects.

Behind these figures are countless stories of devastated families; Those who have lost their main source of livelihood are struggling to survive. These families are fighting for compensation after the death of a loved one. There is confusion even about the death of a relative.

Ghal Singh Rai left Nepal with a fee of one thousand Euros (about one lakh 2 thousand 629 Bangladeshi rupees) to get a job as a construction worker for the Education City World Cup Stadium in Qatar. He committed suicide within a week of arriving in the country. Bangladeshi migrant worker Mohammad Shahid Mia. He was engaged in the construction of the same stadium. He was electrocuted when water entered a room where the workers lived.

Madhu Bolapali of India. How a 43-year-old man died while working in Qatar; His family members still do not understand it. His body lay on the floor of a dormitory room where workers lived. Qatar has long compiled a list of all such deaths. There are also mentions of the unknown cause of death of migrant workers due to multiple fatal injuries, shortness of breath due to hanging work, rotting.

However, in most of these cases, there is talk of normal death, but in some cases, there is also talk of cardiac arrest or respiratory problems.

According to the Guardian, 69 per cent of migrant workers in Bangladesh, India and Nepal die as ‘normal’. In the case of Indians alone, the rate is 80 percent.

The Guardian published a report in 2019; Qatar blames the intense summer heat for the deaths of many migrant workers. The Guardian conducted the investigation in collaboration with the International Labor Organization (ILO). It is said that migrant workers in the country face severe depression for at least four months of the year while working abroad.

In 2014, the Qatari government’s own lawyers proposed amendments to the country’s existing law, recommending a study of migrant workers who died of cardiac arrest and an autopsy of unexpected and sudden deaths. Although the government has not yet implemented this advice to lawyers.

Other causes of death of Indian, Bangladeshi and Nepali migrant workers in Qatar have been cited by the government; These include road accidents (12 percent), work accidents (7 percent) and suicide (8 percent). The Guardian’s investigation found that the Qatari government lacked transparency, strict restrictions and a record of details when it came to documenting the deaths of migrant workers.

The Guardian says embassies and government offices in various countries in Doha have refused to provide information on the deaths of migrant workers for political reasons. 

The embassy of a South Asian country said it could not provide information on the cause of death as it was written in a notebook.

The Guardian wants to know about the deaths of migrant workers to Qatar’s World Cup organizing committee in charge of the stadium construction project. “We are deeply saddened by these tragic deaths,” they said. We have investigated every death to learn from these incidents. We have always maintained transparency around this issue.

However, FIFA, the governing body of world football, has commented that the number of accidents during the construction of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar is much lower than all the ongoing construction work around the world.

 

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