Monday, January 30, 2023

Qatar: expatriates killed at the World Cup are “between 400 and 500”

DOHA ( Associated Press) — A senior Qatari official involved in hosting the country’s World Cup put the number of expatriates killed in preparation for the tournament at “between 400 and 500” for the first time, higher than any previously offered by Doha. is dramatically higher than

The remarks by Hassan al-Thawadi, secretary general of Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Organization and Legacy, seemed unexpected during an interview with British journalist Piers Morgan.

In addition, it threatens to renew criticism from human rights groups of the cost of hosting the first World Cup in the Middle East among the migrant workers who built stadiums, metro lines and new infrastructure for the tournament, which The price is over 200,000. million dollars.

In the interview, excerpts of which Morgan has posted online, the journalist asks Al-Thawadi: “What do you think is the honest and realistic total number of migrant workers who have died as a result of the work you’re doing for the World Cup?” ? gross?”

Al-Thawadi replied, “Estimates range from about 400, between 400 and 500.” I don’t have exact numbers. It’s something we’ve discussed.”

But earlier this figure was not officially made public. The apex committee’s report, going from 2014 to the end of 2021, only includes the number of workers killed in the construction and reconstruction of the stadiums that are now hosting matches.

These figures considered a total of 40 deaths. Of those, 37 were what Qataris describe as non-work events, such as heart attacks, and three were work-related accidents. In one report, the death due to coronavirus during the epidemic is also collected separately.

Al-Thawadi referenced those numbers when talking about stadium-only actions during the interview, just before offering an estimate of “between 400 and 500” for the entire tournament’s infrastructure.

In a later statement, the Supreme Committee said that Al-Thawadi “referred to national statistics for all work deaths (414) covering all regions and nationalities across the country for the period between 2014 and 2020.” “

Since FIFA awarded the tournament to Qatar in 2010, the country has taken some steps to reform its labor laws. This includes removing the so-called kafala recruitment system, which tied workers to their employers, who had the power to decide whether they could leave their jobs or even the country.

Qatar has also adapted a monthly minimum wage of 1,000 Qatari riyals ($275) for workers and requires supplements for food and housing for workers who do not receive those benefits directly. It has also updated its safety rules to prevent deaths.

“One death is already one death too many. It’s that simple,” al-Thawadi said in the interview.

Activists have urged the Qatari government to do more, particularly to ensure that workers are paid on time and are protected from abusive employers.

Al-Thawadi’s statement also renews doubts about the veracity of both government and private reports of dead and injured workers in all the Persian Gulf states whose skyscrapers were built by immigrants from Asian countries such as India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. has gone.

“This is the latest example of an inexcusable lack of transparency regarding the deaths of Qatari workers,” said Nicholas McGeehan of Fairsquare, a London-based group that advocates for migrant workers in the Middle East. “We need data and research, not vague figures announced in media interviews.”

“FIFA and Qatar have many questions to answer, especially where, when and how these people died and whether their families received compensation,” he added.

Mustafa Qadri Al-Thawadi, executive director of Equidem Research, a labor consulting company that published a report on the death rate of migrant construction workers, was puzzled by the words.

“He now says there are hundreds, it’s amazing,” he told The Associated Press. “They don’t know what’s happening.”

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Associated Press writer Graham Dunbar contributed to this report.

Nation World News Desk
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