World Cup 2022: How will Qatar treat foreign workers?
Football fans who will soon arrive in Qatar to watch the FIFA World Cup finals will stay in hotels built by tens of thousands of migrant workers and watch matches in stadiums built by these workers.
Qatar has been under intense scrutiny for the way it treats these workers.
How many foreign workers have worked on WM projects?
Qatar has built seven stadiums to host the World Cup, as well as a new airport, a metro system, a number of roads and almost 100 hotels. An entire city has been built next to the stadium where the final will take place.
Qatar’s government says only 30,000 foreign workers have been hired to build the stadiums, most of them from Bangladesh, India, Nepal and the Philippines.
How many foreign workers have died in Qatar?
In February 2021, Britain’s Guardian newspaper said that 6,500 workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka had died in Qatar since Qatar won the World Cup. This number was reached based on the data provided by the embassies of these countries in Qatar.
However, the Qatari government says the total figure is misleading and does not reflect reality, as not all recorded deaths were from people working on World Cup-related projects.
She said many of them worked in Qatar for several years and may have died of old age or other natural causes.
She explained that her accident records show that there were 37 fatalities among workers on World Cup stadium construction sites between 2014 and 2020, of which only three were work-related.
The International Labor Organization says that number does not represent the truth.
The Qatari government does not consider deaths from heart attack and respiratory failure to be work-related, although these are common symptoms of heat stroke from hard work in extreme temperatures.
The organization has compiled its figures on accidents involving World Cup facilities based on data from Qatar’s state hospitals and ambulance services.
The organization said that in 2021 alone, 50 foreign workers died and more than 500 others were seriously injured, while 37,600 others suffered minor to moderate injuries.
BBC Arabic has also obtained evidence that the Qatari government underestimated the number of deaths among foreign workers in its reporting.
How are foreign workers treated?
Human rights groups have criticized the treatment of foreign workers since Qatar won the 2010 World Cup.
In 2016, Amnesty International accused Qatari companies of using a forced labor (forced) labor system.
She said many workers live in run-down housing, are forced to pay high recruitment fees, have their wages withheld and have their passports confiscated.
Since 2017, the Qatari government has taken a number of measures to protect foreign workers from working in extreme heat, limit their working hours and improve living conditions in labor camps.
However, in a 2021 report, Human Rights Watch said foreign workers continue to suffer “punitive and illegal deductions from their wages” and face “monthly unpaid fees for long hours of hard labor.”
Qatari companies used to follow the so-called “sponsorship” system, in which these companies sponsor foreign workers who come to the country and then prevent them from leaving their jobs.
Under pressure from groups like the International Labor Organization, the Qatar government has scrapped the sponsorship system, but companies are still pressuring workers to prevent them from changing employers, according to Amnesty International.
The organization warned that progress on labor reforms “must not stop once the World Cup qualifiers in Doha are over”.
What has the Qatari government said about the rights of foreign workers?
The government of Qatar has initiated a series of reforms in cooperation with the International Labor Organization.
These reforms include wage protections to ensure employers pay their workers on time.
A government spokesman told the BBC that the reforms implemented have improved working conditions for most foreign workers in Qatar.
” Tangible progress has been made to ensure effective implementation of the reforms,” he said. “The number of companies breaking the rules will continue to decrease as more progress is made in enforcing these rules,” he noted.
What did the teams participating in the World Cup say?
This topic will likely remain in the spotlight throughout the finale.
FIFA has written to the 32 teams participating in the tournament asking them to “focus on football now”. She said sport must not be “drawn” into ideological or political “battles” or “lessons in morality”.
In response, 10 European football associations, including those of England and Wales, declared that “the principles of human rights are universal and apply everywhere”.
The Australian soccer team also released a video criticizing Qatar for its mistreatment of migrant workers.
The Danish players will be dressed in all black to protest Qatar’s human rights record.
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