these workers who died on construction sites in Qatar… The human toll of the World Cup

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Between the conditions for awarding the competition, the environmental impact of air-conditioned stadiums or the authoritarian regime in Qatar, there is no shortage of controversy around the 2022 World Cup. But one subject is even more sensitive than the others: the human toll of the competition. Many workers have indeed lost their lives to build the infrastructure of the competition.

qatari world cup stadium

Who are these workers?

Among the 3 million inhabitants of Qatar, around 85-90% of the population is made up of foreign workers. Qatari citizens occupy positions of responsibility and they have been accustomed for decades to resorting to foreign workers to occupy the most difficult jobs, such as that of workers on construction sites. Tens of thousands of workers from Africa and Asia (particularly Bangladesh, India and Nepal) were hired en masse to build the stadiums and infrastructure of the competition. Some estimates suggest the number of 35,000 foreign workers present in Qatar at the height of the works.

How many deaths on construction sites?

As is often the case with any calculation, even the most macabre, different versions are opposed… Officially, the organizers recognize only three workers who died on the construction sites following a work accident: two Nepalese and a Briton. The Qataris also recognize 37 other deaths on the construction sites, but according to them they are not consecutive to a work accident. These would be deaths caused by “cardiovascular diseases”.

The NGO Amnesty International deplores this obscure classification and estimated in its last annual report that the category “cardiovascular diseases” risks ” hide a high number of deaths that are, in fact, unexplained “. It counts 2,800 such deaths in Qatar between 2011 and 2020 among foreign workers. The Team recently explained that the exhaustion and overwork imposed on these workers can fall into this category and, even if it is not strictly speaking a work accident, it is indeed a death resulting from the presence of these workers on construction sites…

At the other end, the British newspaper The Guardian published a shock survey in February 2021, putting forward the dramatic figure of 6,500 workers who died on the World Cup sites. The Team however, believes that this figure, based on data collected from five Asian countries, is overestimated because it would be a global mortality and which does not only concern the construction sites of the World Cup. The human toll of the competition would therefore be between the 3 or 40 deaths recognized by Qatar, and the 6,500 deaths deplored by The Guardian. A range unfortunately too wide to get a precise idea…

Dramatic working conditions

One thing is certain: foreign workers who come to Qatar must work and live in undignified conditions. Like the Further Investigation broadcast on October 13 on France 2, news reports have highlighted that migrants are often crammed into substandard housing. They sleep in bunk beds and in the most total promiscuity. Most are subject to hellish speeds, with sometimes only two days off per month for some according to testimonies. It is clear that this frenetic pace can result in deaths from overwork…

What measures from Qatar?

Faced with the growing controversy, the host country of the World Cup took several measures, including the establishment of a minimum wage, but most of them came late, in 2020, when the bulk of the work had already been completed. Officially abolished, the kafala (or sponsorhip) system would continue in practice. This makes employers all-powerful and forces workers to obtain the agreement of their boss to change jobs or receive an exit visa to leave the Emirate… Other workers find themselves trapped in another way because forced to repay the loan they took out to pay the “recruitment fees” guaranteeing them a place as a worker in Qatar…

Just before the World Cup, the Emirate also caused controversy by refusing to create a compensation fund for foreign workers killed or injured on the construction sites of the competition. The host country hides behind the support and insurance fund created in 2018 for foreign workers not receiving a salary. “Every death is a tragedy (but) there are no criteria for establishing this compensation fund. Where are the victims? Do you have the names? How can you get these numbers? If a person entitled to compensation has not received it, let them come forward and we will help them.“, only replied the Minister of Labor, Ali bin Samikh al-Marri, in an interview granted to theAFP. A dialogue of the deaf…

L’article these workers who died on construction sites in Qatar… The human toll of the World Cup est apparu en premier sur 24hfootnews.

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