Qatar is making preparations for the 2022 Fifa World Cup in full swing to put its best foot forward in the world. The stark reality which Doha is trying to hide is not only the corrupt means through which it won the bid to host the game but the ‘modern slavery’ the Gulf country is executing. In the last few years thousands of migrant workers have died in Qatar, thousands more are enduring appalling humans rights abuses. More than 1,400 migrants have died since work on World Cup stadiums commenced due to poor living conditions. Human rights groups have anticipated that the death toll of the migrant workers could rise to 4,000 by 2022.
It raises serious questions over Qatar’s preparations to host the event.
Qatar has spent Dh3.3 billion on 40 stadiums, while the migrant workers who built them were paid just Dh3.8 an hour.
According to Nepali government, around 110 Nepalese workers die every year in Qatar due to lack of safeguards at the construction sites and poor living conditions.
German broadcaster Westdeutscher Rundfunk Köln (WDR) released an investigative documentary, titled “Trapped in Qatar,” unveiling the miserable plight of workers who are forced to live in cramped camps without basic human needs. It showed how 200 workers shared a single toilet and as many as eight shared the small, dark rooms provided to them.
A WDR journalist, Benjamin Best, entered Qatar in May with a hidden camera to show the conditions in which thousands of workers were surviving. The workers told him that they haven’t received their wages for months and were not provided proper shelter or food. They were kept as bonded slaves and weren’t able to leave the country as their passports were confiscated by their employers.
The mourning families of dead workers also told WDR that they had received no compensation from Doha for their tragic losses.
Nepalese account for about 40% of migrant labourers in Qatar. In order to protect their citizens from Qatari exploitation, Nepal and the Philippines took united action last week. Nepalese authorities are also openly discouraging its citizens from going to Qatar.
The tiny Gulf country with the migrant labour force of nearly 2 million, has shown an unapologetic attitude towards the issue.
In 2017, Qatar announced that it would introduce significant labour reforms for migrant workers, including a minimum wage, allowing people to leave the country and health and safety measures. Evidence suggests that no such agreement has been enforced. When asked about wage raise, the country’s sports minister said in an interview this month that he did not know when wages would be increased.
Chair of the Philippine Commission on Human Rights Chito Gascon said: “Ultimately, there was a commitment on the part of Qatar that they will abide by international labour standards and the only way by which we can ensure that is to surface the issues.
“That’s why we need to work very closely with our respective embassies there to make sure that any issues involving labour rights will be quickly addressed by the Qatar government.”