While the world football fans get ready to throng the various stadiums of Qatar, the stories of inhuman suffering of workers who have helped build them, are coming out stronger.
Liverpool fans and human right organizations are questioning the home teams’ participation in all the stadiums which have been disclosed to have treated its foreign workers in inhuman ways. Stories of forced labour, less or no pay, long working hours, suffocation and malnutrition are amassed.
A well known British newspaper was able to bring to light various such cases, the families of who are now fighting for compensation with the Qatari government. They are being shunned or shut-up with apologetic sums of compensation.
Minky Worden, a director at Human Rights Watch, believes Liverpool’s players and management should raise these abuses and demand reforms. A loud cry is being heard on social media platforms asking clubs from all over the world to unite against this fight for human rights and justice. “Liverpool and other teams who play in Qatar should be aware that migrant workers have died to deliver the stadiums they are playing in, and at every opportunity speak up to insist that they are protected,” Worden said in a public statement to the press.
Further investigations by related media agencies have revealed that in the vast majority of cases the Qatari authorities have never carried out postmortem examinations, making it impossible to accurately determine the cause of death. According to the official spokesperson of the Qatar super committee for the erection and building of stadia facilities, in most cases compensation is only paid when a worker dies in a work-related accident. For non-work-related deaths, “the supreme committee ensures our contractors pay final salaries [and] end of service benefits.”
According to Qatari government agencies, most of these workers have not died at work and therefore their next to kin cannot be compensated.
The British newspaper, the Guardian reported that many deaths of migrant workers in Qatar were likely to be linked to the extreme summer heat, which saw workers toiling in temperatures that regularly reach 45C. Most of them come from moderate climatic conditions and were not used to extreme temperatures. Also, they were not given enough rest, hydration or nutrition to manage such workloads.
The numbers of World Cup 2022 stadium workers who die each year are just a fraction of the total number of migrant worker deaths. Less than 2% of Qatar’s migrant workforce was employed at World Cup stadiums, but tens of thousands were working on infrastructure to support the World Cup in 2022, including hotel, rail and road construction.
Official data from countries of origin of manpower employed in Qatar says it all. At least 1,025 workers from Nepal died between 2012 and 2017. Of this, 676 of them died from causes deemed to be “natural”. In 2018, 149 Bangladeshi workers died, with 107 deaths classified as “natural”. Between 2012 and August 2018, 1,678 Indian workers died. Of these deaths, 1,345 were described as “natural” – a rate of four a week.
According to data revealed by Amnesty International, most of the migrant workers were paid less than promised, their passports were confiscated and they were unable to change jobs or quit the country, leaving some vulnerable to forced labour. Also, scores of these workers who refurbished the stadium were housed in filthy, overcrowded accommodation with an ever-present stench of raw sewage. Their passports were confiscated and they weren’t allowed to change jobs or return home.
It is no exaggeration to say that most were being treated as slave labour in modern times with complete disregard of freedom of speech and human rights violated. Indeed, a modern form of slavery at the hands of tiny but rich middle eastern nations of the world.
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