02/25/2021, 10.17
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Over 6,500 migrant workers have died all for 2022 soccer world cup

Data from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka report the disappearance of 5,927 people. The Pakistani embassy speaks of 824 dead compatriots. The figure could be much higher because numbers from Kenya and the Philippines are missing. Doha accused of failing to protect migrant workers.

Doha (AsiaNews / Agencies) - More than 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died in Qatar since the December 2010 award of the 2022 World Cup.

This is what emerges from a Guardian investigation casting a further shadow on reports - and the host country - of accidents in the workplace, conditions of slavery or non-payment of wages.

Data from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka refer to the disappearance of 5927 migrant workers between 2011 and 2020. The Pakistani embassy in Qatar talks about an additional 824 nationals who died between 2010 and 2020.

The statistics could be far higher, because the confirmed victims do not include nations with a massive workforce in the Gulf country, such as the Philippines and Kenya. And the deaths of the last months of last year are not counted either.

Although the data does not indicate the victims' employment or place of work, it is very likely that the vast majority are connected to construction and infrastructure projects for the world championship scheduled for next year, as stated by the director of FairSquare Projects Nick McGeehan.

The NGO specializes in labour rights in the Gulf. " A very significant proportion of the migrant workers who have died since 2011 were only in the country because Qatar won the right to host the World Cup,” he said.

The investigation also shows Doha's inability or "unwillingness" to protect the migrant workforce, over 2 million people in the small Gulf country. Little, perhaps non-existent, even the will to investigate the actual causes of the high mortality rate and the reasons for deaths among workers, mostly young and healthy.

And behind the statistics are the lives of thousands of families devastated by the loss of a relative and the possibility of earning the money necessary for their subsistence, in addition to not receiving any compensation.

Among the many stories we remember that of the young Ghal Singh Rai, from Nepal, who paid almost 1500 dollars to be hired in a cleaning company operating within the Education City World Cup stadium. Just seven days after his arrival, he committed suicide. And again Mohammad Shahid Miah, from Bangladesh, killed by an electric shock in his dormitory, after water came into contact with exposed electricity wires.

According to data obtained by the Guardian, 69% of deaths among Indian, Nepalese and Bangladeshi workers are classified as "natural". Among Indians alone, the percentage is 80%. Such classifications, experts warn, are usually done without an autopsy and in most cases fail to provide a legitimate and certified medical explanation as to the real cause of death.

The Qatari government responds by stating that the death toll - which it does not dispute - is commensurate with the size of the migrant workforce and the figures include white-collar workers who have died of natural causes after living in Qatar for many years.

A government spokesman in Doha responded: “The mortality rate among these communities is within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population. However, every lost life is a tragedy, and no effort is spared in trying to prevent every death in our country - falls within the range expected for the size and demographics of the population. However, every life lost is a tragedy and no effort is spared in trying to prevent every death in our country”.

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