According to an analysis by the British newspaper The Guardian, at least 6,500 migrant workers have already died in Qatar. This happened during the preparations for the 2022 World Cup.
Qatar was given the privilege of hosting the World Cup ten years ago. The country began an unprecedented building program. In addition to seven brand-new stadiums, dozens of other major projects have been delivered or are still underway. New roads, public transport systems, hotels or even a new airport: it’s all part of it.
Infrastructure works are the culprit
Every week an average of twelve migrants die. They mainly come from South Asian countries such as India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. The total death toll is considerably higher. These figures do not include deaths from countries sending many more workers to Qatar. The Philippines and Kenya are examples of this. Deaths during the last months of 2020 are also not included.
Although the death records do not take into account the workplaces of the workers, it is likely that many of them were employed in the aforementioned infrastructure works. That is the case, according to Nick McGeehan, director at FairSquare Projects, an advocacy group specializing in labor rights in the region. He says: “Most of the deceased labor migrants were here solely because Qatar is organizing the World Cup.”
Failing protective policy
Findings show that Qatar is failing to protect its two million migrant workers. Even an investigation into the causes of the high death rate is not possible. There are therefore many stories hidden behind the statistics. Disappointed families who lose their main breadwinners are confused about the circumstances in which their loved one died.
Ghal Singh Rai from Nepal committed suicide a week after arrival. He had a job as a cleaner in a workers’ camp that was building one of the stadiums. Mohammad Shahid Miah was from Bangladesh and was electrocuted in his working-class home. This happened after water came into contact with exposed electrical cables. Others died from “multiple blunt injuries, a high fall, suffocation from hanging,” and so on. This is evident from long official documents.
In balance with demographics?
The most common cause of death is so-called ‘natural death’. Consider, for example, a heart attack. According to data obtained by The Guardian, 69 percent of migrant workers have died of such a natural death. However, most classifications are made without a prior autopsy or legitimate medical explanation.
The government of Qatar says the number of deaths is proportional to the number of migrant workers. Many workers died naturally after living in Qatar for many years, they say. A spokesman for the Qatari government said: ‘The mortality rate among these communities is within the expected range if you look at the demographics of the population. However, every lost life remains a tragedy. No effort is spared to prevent every death in our country. ‘
The number of deaths from Corona has not affected the numbers hard. Only a little more than 250 people died from it.