The Guardian reports more than 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar since it won the right in 2010 to host the 2022 World Cup. That’s an average of 12 migrant worker deaths per week. Many of the dead were employed on construction sites for the World Cup’s seven new soccer stadiums and massive public works projects tied to the upcoming tournament.
Qatar’s government claims most of the deaths were due to “natural causes,” but workers’ advocates have tied many of them to heat stress from scorching temperatures at worksites, as well as workplace accidents, crowded and unsanitary conditions in labor camps and deaths by suicide.
In 2012, Democracy Now! traveled to Qatar’s capital, Doha, where we spoke with Nepalese labor journalist Devendra Dhungana.
Devendra Dhungana: “They are living in very squalid conditions you couldn’t just believe — 17 people living in one room, 50 people sharing one small kitchen, and there’s no fire extinguisher service there, no running water, and 50 people have to queue up in the morning to use one toilet. … They felt they were under captivity and a kind of modern slavery was there in Qatar, because their passports were seized by the company, and they will not have the right to return home, even in emergency situations, because they are not easily issued the exit papers.”