The Corner

Labor Federation: Qatar World Cup Construction Will Cost Lives of Thousands of Workers

Construction to prepare for Qatar’s hosting the 2022 World Cup is underway, and the massive effort to build stadiums, hotels, and infrastructure will claim the lives of at least 4,000 migrant workers if current trends continue, according to a report by the International Trade Union Confederation. The ITUC estimates that of the hundreds of thousands of workers flowing into the country from countries such as Nepal, India, and Sri Lanka to labor on building sites, as many as 600 a year could die, absent reforms to harsh working conditions and unsanitary living quarters.

“We are absolutely convinced they are dying because of conditions of work and life,” the authors of the report told the Guardian.

The estimates are based on current mortality figures among Nepalese and Indian workers. A separate investigation by the Guardian found that 44 Nepalese workers died in just one month over the summer in a system that amounts to “modern-day slavery.” Workers said that they were forced to labor in 120 degree heat without access to water, had their passports confiscated, were refused the IDs they needed to move around country, and were denied pay for months at a time.

“The allegations suggest a chain of exploitation leading from poor Nepalese villages to Qatari leaders,” the Guardian concluded. “The overall picture is of one of the richest nations exploiting one of the poorest to get ready for the world’s most popular sporting tournament.”

“There is no longer a risk that the World Cup might be built on forced labor,” said Aidan McQuade, director of Anti-Slavery International. “It is already happening.”

According to the ITUC, an estimated 1 million more migrant workers will join the 1.2 million already in Qatar before the construction is completed.  

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