Dutch government, along with some other state officials, expressed concerns about the workers’ condition in Qatar’s soccer world cup construction program. Amsterdam put a trade mission to Qatar on hold for more clarification.
A cleaner of the camp resided by workers paid £1,000 per month commits suicide after one week of arrival. The story of Ghal Singh Rai, a Nepali worker in Qatar world cup construction project, represents the depth of tragedy.
Reports confirmed by government sources revealed that during the 10-year project, more than 6,500 workers lost their lives. Qatar started the project right after winning the 2022 world cup right to host in 2010.
A major part of the victims were migrants from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal. The figure shows that citizens of these countries experienced more than 50 deaths per month since the beginning of the project.
The real death toll in expected to be much higher since countries like Kenya and Philippines are not included in the list. Besides, casualty of final months of 2020 is not calculated.
Qatar’s oversized construction program, a preparing project for 2022 world cup games, attracted more than 2 million workers mostly from south Asian countries. There is no clear statistics about the work fields of the workers who passed away.
Dutch government says the recent report about worker’s death toll in Qatar made controversies in society and among legislators. “We have talked before with Qatar about the poor conditions for these workers, but these numbers give the discussion a new meaning. We want to hear Qatar`s response before we can think of a new date for the mission.” Dutch foreign ministry spokesman asserted.
Nick McGeehan, an activist on worker’s right says “A very significant proportion of the migrant workers who have died since 2011 were only in the country because Qatar won the right to host the World Cup.”
Various causes of death have been announced in Qatar’s official data among which “multiple blunt injuries due to a fall from height, asphyxia due to hanging, and undetermined cause of death due to decomposition” are the most outstanding ones.
“Natural deaths” is, nevertheless, the most recurrent announced cause of death among workers in Qatar. The data reported by news outlets show that 69% of Indian, Nepali and Bangladeshi workers lost their lives due to natural reasons. The figure among Indians alone is 80%.
Considering the young age and health condition of workers able to work in hard conditions, natural resons like heart attacks seems bizarre. Besides, Qatari authorities provide no legitimate medical evidence about the kind of natural death while no autopsy has been made either.
Madhu Bollapally, an Indian 43-year old worker, is one of the cases passed away for natural reasons. His cold body was found on the dorm floor while his family assert that he was sound and healthy when leaving the country.
Qatar government believes that the size of fatalities, considering the number of workers in the project, is normal: “The mortality rate among these communities is within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population. However, every lost life is a tragedy, and no effort is spared in trying to prevent every death in our country.”
FIFA took a conservative position emphasizing on the importance of the health of workers in world cup projects, while asserting that “the frequency of accidents on Fifa World Cup construction sites has been low when compared to other major construction projects around the world.” The association, however, refused to provide any evidence on the claim.
Along with FIFA, the embassies of the countries with bulk number of workers in Qatar also overlook the condition refusing to provide any evident data about their citizens in the country. Political considerations have led the condition into where May Romanos, Gulf researcher for Amnesty International, describes as “a real lack of clarity and transparency surrounding deaths.”