Date
18 December 2017
Qatar is being accused by human rights groups of dragging its feet over promised reform in World Cup-related construction projects. Photo: Al Jazeera
Qatar is being accused by human rights groups of dragging its feet over promised reform in World Cup-related construction projects. Photo: Al Jazeera

Guardian: Qatar World Cup laborers dying like flies

Construction workers building Qatar’s infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup are dying at a rate of one every to days, according to Britain’s the Guardian newspaper.

All are Nepali laborers and the figure excludes deaths of Indian, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi workers.

If fatalities among all migrants were taken into account, the toll would almost certainly be more than one a day, the newspaper said, citing its own findings.

The revelations come despite promises by the Qatari government to reform World Cup-related construction policies after the Guardian exposed the desperate plight of migrant workers last year.

The government commissioned an investigation by the international law firm DLA Piper and promised to implement recommendations in a report published in May.

Human rights organisations have accused Qatar of dragging its feet, saying not enough is being done to investigate the effect of long working hours in temperatures that regularly top 50-degree celsius.

The Nepalese foreign employment promotion board said 157 of its workers in Qatar had died between January and mid-November this year – 67 of sudden cardiac arrest and eight of heart attacks.

Thirty-four deaths were recorded as workplace accidents.

Figures sourced separately by the Guardian from Nepalese authorities suggest the total during that period could be as high as 188. In 2013, the figure from January to mid-November was 168.

“We know that people who work long hours in high temperatures are highly vulnerable to fatal heat strokes, so obviously these figures continue to cause alarm,” said Nicholas McGeehan, the Middle East researcher at Human Rights Watch.

“It’s Qatar’s responsibility to determine if deaths are related to living and working conditions, but Qatar flatly rejected a DLA Piper recommendation to launch an immediate investigation into these deaths last year.”

Some within Qatar suggest the cardiac arrest death rates could be comparable to those among Nepalese workers of a similar age at home. 

The Indian embassy said this year that the number of deaths was in line with the average in their home country.

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FL/RA

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