At least 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka have died during the 10-year construction of Qatar’s 2022 World Cup facilities due to shoddy work conditions and lack of training, according to The Guardian. The shocking figure is likely grossly underestimated because no figures are available for migrant deaths from the workers from Kenya or the Philippines.
Massive development work is underway in addition to the conversion of the Khalifa Stadium and the construction of seven additional World Cup-level stadiums, as well as a new airport, new hotels, new roads and public transportation, and an entire new city being built just for the World Cup final celebrations.
Qatar’s human-rights record has been the subject of scrutiny since the nation won the bid to host the international event. Amnesty International published a damning report accusing the wealthy country of lying to migrants to entice them to come work. Many workers paid hefty fees to recruitment firms hired by the Qatari government to cover transportation and accommodation. Many of them could not afford the fees, so they were given loans they have to pay back.
Once in Qatar, they are allegedly forced to live in squalid conditions and are often not paid in a timely manner or what they were promised. “Workers often live in cramped, dirty, and unsafe accommodation,” Amnesty International reported. “Recruitment agents also make false promises about the salary workers will receive, and the type of job on offer. One worker was promised a salary of US$300 a month in Nepal, but this turned out to be US$190 once he started work in Qatar.”
Payments are also often delayed, leaving workers unable to send money back home or make payments on recruitment-related loans they were often forced to take out.
The Guardian estimates that in the last 10 years since Qatar won the bid to host the event, an average of 12 migrant workers from the south Asian nations have died each week. That figure could be twice as high if records on other migrant deaths are released.
Many of the deaths are due to the fact that workers are poorly trained in construction-site safety and the extreme heat conditions of the Arab nation, but some have died in their sleeping areas. One 29-year-old Bangladeshi man named Mohammad Shahid Miah died when floodwater in his room came into contact with an exposed electric cable, electrocuting him, according to the Guardian.
Amnesty International also reports that all of the migrant workers they interviewed were stripped of their identity documents upon arrival and are not given renewed residence permits, meaning they cannot leave the country. The workers are also prohibited from changing jobs, making them stick with contracts that were signed without legal advice.
The average monthly salary of those working to convert the Khalifa Stadium for the games is $220, according to Amnesty International while the main subcontractor is being paid upwards of $35 million.
Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC) and FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 LLC signed a Memorandum of Understanding earlier this month with the Qatari National Human Rights Committee to raise awareness of human rights issues in the delivery of the World Cup. “The SC has worked tirelessly to protect the health, safety and welfare of all workers engaged in the Qatar 2022 project. We are proud of our achievements over the past 10 years and strongly believe that our actions have created a benchmark for excellence—not just in Qatar, but across the region and around the world,” Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary-general of the Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, said.
The World Cup will be held from Nov. 21 and Dec. 18, 2022, with 32 teams competing at eight stadiums.