(CNN Spanish) — Qatar’s preparation to host the 2022 World Cup has been marked by a series of controversies over the treatment of migrant workers who have traveled to the country in recent years to help build stadiums, especially due to the high death toll. in work accidents.
Like other Persian Gulf monarchies, Qatar has made extensive use of migrant labor in recent decades, sometimes under harsh and dangerous working conditions.
How many of these workers have died during the construction of the stadiums that will be used in the World Cup?
Qatar has come under global scrutiny after thousands of deaths were reported among migrant workers, who often come from some of the world’s poorest countries to do dangerous jobs, in extreme heat and for low wages.
According to the British newspaper Guardianthe figure could rise to 6,500 workers killed since 2010, when Qatar was chosen to host the 2022 World Cup.
CNN has not been able to verify this figure, and the Qatari government has categorically denied the accusation.
“This is something that needs to be made absolutely clear. Absolutely clear. The number of fatalities in World Cup stadiums that are work related are three fatalities. There are just over 30 fatalities that are not related to the work,” Nasser al Khatel, chief executive of the committee organizing the World Cup in Qatar, told CNN.
The ILO report
The International Labor Organization (ILO) assured that there are gaps in the data collection by Qatar’s institutions, and stated that in 2020 alone, 50 workers would have died after suffering fatal occupational injuries.
The report said Qatar inadequately investigates and reports worker deaths and called for “better quality and more accurate data collection, with more efforts to investigate injuries and deaths that may be work-related but are not currently They are classified as such.”
Data from medical institutions providing acute care to injured workers in Qatar showed that 50 workers died in 2020 and more than 500 suffered serious injuries, according to the ILO’s comprehensive report on work-related deaths and injuries in the country.
According to the report, 37,600 workers suffered mild to moderate injuries in 2020.
“Most of them were suffered by migrant workers from Bangladesh, India and Nepal, mainly in the construction industry,” the ILO said in a statement on the report.
Migrant workers make up 95% of the Qatari workforce, according to the ILO.
“Falls from a height and traffic accidents were the leading causes of serious injuries, followed by falling objects in workplaces,” the ILO said.
The Qatari Ministry of Labor said in a statement that “figures reported in the media on deaths of migrant workers have been grossly misleading.”
“The government has been transparent about the health of our foreign population, and in reality, mortality levels in Qatar are on par with the broader demographics globally. Still, improving the health and well-being of foreign workers remains a priority,” the ministry added.
Qatar has introduced reforms to its labor structure, dismantling Kafala’s controversial sponsorship system and enforcing a minimum wage of $275 a month that applies to both migrant workers and internal workers, which it claims is the first of its kind. in the region.
Amnesty International urges FIFA to compensate migrant workers
In May this year, the human rights group Amnesty International urged FIFA to allocate at least $440 million to compensate migrant workers who it says have suffered labor abuses in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
“With six months to go before the opening of the Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers have not received adequate redress, including financial compensation, for the severe labor abuses they suffered during the construction and maintenance of essential infrastructures for the preparation and celebration of the World Cup in Qatar”, said an open letter sent in May to the president of FIFA, Gianni Infantino.
While Amnesty International acknowledges the progress made to protect workers’ rights in the country, it says aid is coming too late and the country’s “kafala sponsorship system” allows “unscrupulous employers to abuse migrant workers with impunity”.
FIFA welcomed Amnesty’s acknowledgment of the country’s labor reforms, saying that it, together with Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy (SC), was “implementing a due diligence process unprecedented” in relation to the protection of workers involved in the preparations for the World Cup.
It also said it was “currently evaluating the program proposed by Amnesty International” but that the report covered “a wide range of non-World Cup-specific public infrastructure built since 2010.”
With information from Allegra Goodwin, Amanda Davies, Ben Church and George Ramsay.