Revealed: 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar as it gears up for World Cup | Global development

Greater than 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar since it gained the correct to host the World Cup 10 years in the past, the Guardian can reveal.

The findings, compiled from authorities sources, imply a median of 12 migrant workers from these 5 south Asian nations have died every week for the reason that evening in December 2010 when the streets of Doha had been stuffed with ecstatic crowds celebrating Qatar’s victory.

Information from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka revealed there have been 5,927 deaths of migrant workers in the interval 2011–2020. Individually, information from Pakistan’s embassy in Qatar reported an additional 824 deaths of Pakistani workers, between 2010 and 2020.

Mohammad Shahid Miah

Mohammad Shahid Miah, 29, from Bangladesh, died when floodwater in his room got here into contact with an uncovered electrical cable, electrocuting him.

The full loss of life toll is considerably larger, as these figures don’t embody deaths from quite a lot of nations which ship massive numbers of workers to Qatar, together with the Philippines and Kenya. Deaths that occurred in the ultimate months of 2020 are additionally not included.

Prior to now 10 years, Qatar has launched into an unprecedented constructing programme, largely in preparation for the soccer match in 2022. Along with seven new stadiums, dozens of main initiatives have been accomplished or are underneath means, together with a brand new airport, roads, public transport techniques, accommodations and a brand new metropolis, which is able to host the World Cup remaining.

Whereas loss of life data usually are not categorised by occupation or place of job, it is probably going many workers who have died had been employed on these World Cup infrastructure initiatives, says Nick McGeehan, a director at FairSquare Tasks, an advocacy group specialising in labour rights in the Gulf. “A really important proportion of the migrant workers who have died since 2011 had been solely in the nation as a result of Qatar gained the correct to host the World Cup,” he mentioned.

A 12 months on from the beginning of the world’s greatest well being disaster, we now face a human rights pandemic. Covid-19 has uncovered the inequalities and fragilities of well being and political techniques and allowed authoritarian regimes to impose drastic curbs on rights and freedoms, utilizing the virus as a pretext for proscribing free speech and stifling dissent.

Rights and Freedom is a brand new Guardian reporting sequence to analyze and expose human rights abuses at this crucial time, and elevate the voices of individuals on the frontlines, preventing again for themselves and their communities.

There have been 37 deaths amongst workers immediately linked to building of World Cup stadiums, of which 34 are categorized as “non-work associated” by the occasion’s organising committee. Consultants have questioned using the time period as a result of in some instances it has been used to explain deaths which have occurred on the job, together with quite a lot of workers who have collapsed and died on stadium building websites.

The findings expose Qatar’s failure to guard its 2 million-strong migrant workforce, and even examine the causes of the apparently excessive charge of loss of life among the many largely younger workers.

World Cup workers – number of deaths – revised

Behind the statistics lie numerous tales of devastated households who have been left with out their most important breadwinner, struggling to achieve compensation and confused concerning the circumstances of their cherished one’s loss of life.

Ghal Singh Rai from Nepal paid almost £1,000 in recruitment charges for his job as a cleaner in a camp for workers constructing the Training Metropolis World Cup stadium. Inside per week of arriving, he killed himself.

One other employee, Mohammad Shahid Miah, from Bangladesh, was electrocuted in his employee lodging after water got here into contact with uncovered electrical energy cables.

In India, the household of Madhu Bollapally have by no means understood how the wholesome 43-year outdated died of “pure causes” whereas working in Qatar. His physique was discovered mendacity on his dorm room flooring.

Madhu Bollapally

Qatar’s grim loss of life toll is revealed in lengthy spreadsheets of official information itemizing the causes of loss of life: a number of blunt accidents as a consequence of a fall from top; asphyxia as a consequence of hanging; undetermined reason for loss of life as a consequence of decomposition.

However among the many causes, the commonest by far is so-called “pure deaths”, typically attributed to acute coronary heart or respiratory failure.

Based mostly on the information obtained by the Guardian, 69% of deaths amongst Indian, Nepali and Bangladeshi workers are categorised as pure. Amongst Indians alone, the determine is 80%.

The Guardian has beforehand reported that such classifications, that are often made with out an post-mortem, typically fail to supply a reputable medical rationalization for the underlying trigger of those deaths.

In 2019 it discovered that Qatar’s intense summer time warmth is prone to be a big issue in many employee deaths. The Guardian’s findings had been supported by analysis commissioned by the UN’s Worldwide Labour Group which revealed that for a minimum of 4 months of the 12 months workers confronted important warmth stress when working outdoors.

Labourers from Nepal put up scaffolding for the launch of the World Cup logo. They start work long before sunrise to avoid the heat.

Labourers from Nepal put up scaffolding for the launch of the World Cup emblem. They begin work lengthy earlier than dawn to keep away from the warmth. {Photograph}: Pete Pattisson

A report from Qatar authorities’s personal attorneys in 2014 really useful that it fee a examine into the deaths of migrant workers from cardiac arrest, and amend the regulation to “permit for autopsies … in all instances of surprising or sudden loss of life”. The federal government has performed neither.

Qatar continues to “drag its ft on this crucial and pressing situation in obvious disregard for workers’ lives”, mentioned Hiba Zayadin, Gulf researcher for Human Rights Watch. “We have known as on Qatar to amend its regulation on autopsies to require forensic investigations into all sudden or unexplained deaths, and move laws to require that each one loss of life certificates embody reference to a medically significant reason for loss of life,” she mentioned.

Mohammad Shahid Miah

The Qatar authorities says that the variety of deaths – which it doesn’t dispute – is proportionate to the dimensions of the migrant workforce and that the figures embody white-collar workers who have died naturally after residing in Qatar for a few years.

“The mortality charge amongst these communities is throughout the anticipated vary for the dimensions and demographics of the inhabitants. Nevertheless, each misplaced life is a tragedy, and no effort is spared in making an attempt to forestall each loss of life in our nation,” the Qatari authorities mentioned in an announcement by a spokesperson.

The official added that each one residents and international nationals have entry to free first-class healthcare, and that there was a gradual decline in the mortality charge amongst “visitor workers” over the previous decade as a consequence of well being and security reforms to the labour system.

World Cup workers – causes of death – latest data

Different important causes of deaths amongst Indians, Nepalis and Bangladeshis are street accidents (12%), office accidents (7%) and suicide (7%).

Covid-related deaths, which have remained extraordinarily low in Qatar, have not considerably affected the figures, with simply over 250 fatalities amongst all nationalities.

Ghal Singh Rai

The Guardian’s analysis has additionally highlighted the shortage of transparency, rigour and element in recording deaths in Qatar. Embassies in Doha and governments in labour-sending nations are reluctant to share the information, probably for political causes. The place statistics have been supplied, there are inconsistencies between the figures held by totally different authorities businesses, and there’s no normal format for recording the causes of loss of life. One south-Asian embassy mentioned they may not share information on the causes of loss of life as a result of they had been solely recorded by hand in a pocket book.

“There’s a actual lack of readability and transparency surrounding these deaths,” mentioned Could Romanos, Gulf researcher for Amnesty Worldwide. “There’s a want for Qatar to strengthen its occupational well being and security requirements.”

The committee organising the World Cup in Qatar, when requested concerning the deaths on stadium initiatives, mentioned: “We deeply remorse all of those tragedies and investigated every incident to make sure classes had been realized. We have at all times maintained transparency round this situation and dispute inaccurate claims across the variety of workers who have died on our initiatives.”

In an announcement, a spokesperson for Fifa, soccer’s world governing physique, mentioned it is totally dedicated to defending the rights of workers on Fifa initiatives. “With the very stringent well being and security measures on web site … the frequency of accidents on Fifa World Cup building websites has been low when in comparison with different main building initiatives around the globe,” they mentioned, with out offering proof.

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