|(Left: captured from the report, right: bloomberg)|
The International Trade Union Confederation has issued a report against Qatar, citing unfair treatment of foreign workers seeking better working conditions. The ITUC said that 1,200 migrants from India and Nepal had died in Qatar since it was awarded the 2022 World Cup. It also added that an estimated 4,000 migrant workers will die on account of the 2022 Qatar World Cup.
The figures in the report match those of reports issued by the Nepalese embassy, which stated that 400 Nepalese had died while working on World Cup projects since 2010. The Indian embassy in Qatar has recorded 500 deaths of Indians since 2012.
According to The Wall Street Journal, like many Gulf countries, Qatar depends on a foreign labor force, mainly from Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and parts of Africa, but treatment of the workers is typically poor. Many of them are housed in labor camps and sometimes, under the “kafala” system, their passports are withheld by employers to keep them from running away.
However, the Qatari World Cup organizing committee told the WSJ via an emailed statement that the ITUC report is “littered with factual errors and attempts to discredit the positive work we are undertaking,” expressing disappointment in the report.
“The International Trade Union Confederation’s statement that our standards have no credible enforcement mechanism is hence both incorrect and misleading,” the committee told the WSJ. “We know that there are issues. While this process of change is not something that can be achieved overnight, we have the will and the commitment to see it through.”
The controversial reports about poor treatment of the workers in Qatar have cited alleged inhumane acts by construction companies and construction site managers. In September 2013, the Guardian reported on working conditions at the Lusail City construction site, calling Qatar a “modern day slaver.”
Business Insider also pointed out that Qatar’s initial promise to hold the event in summer by using space-age cooling systems was immediately abandoned. FIFA will vote in 2015 to decide whether the World Cup should be held in winter to avoid the harsh summer weather.
Allegations that about $2 million worth of bribes were accepted by ex-FIFA president Jack Warner have added to Qatar’s problems. The Telegraph reported that the FBI is investigating Warner for taking $2 million from a Qatari company soon after the 2022 World Cup vote. A man who has been banned for life from FIFA is the owner of the company under scrutiny for bribing Warner. The man was found guilty of other bribery charges.
Despite widespread criticism, the Qatari government has not been doing much to contain or to combat the negative press.
By Ha Ji-won, Intern reporter (firstname.lastname@example.org