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Qatar and the FIFA World Cup – Modern Slavery

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Throughout the past year, there has been a lot of criticism of the working conditions of migrant workers in Qatar. As the country prepares for the 2022 FIFA World Cup, the number of migrant workers in Qatar will increase. Some estimates say that as many as 500,000 to 1 million more migrants could be forced into the country to work on World Cup projects. This is in addition to the 1.2 million workers who are already in Qatar.

There are reports that migrant workers in Qatar are abused in their employment, which is often referred to as modern slavery. Amnesty International has documented large-scale abuses of migrant workers in Qatar, including forced labour at the Doha Khalifa stadium. In the report, the group interviewed 243 male migrants, detailing the experiences of migrant workers in Qatar. It described a number of exploitative practices, including forced labour, sexual abuse, and a lack of basic protections for workers.

Among the most shocking conditions migrant workers face are extreme heat. Daytime temperatures in June can reach 47C, and the summer months can be significantly hotter. These heatwaves can lead to sudden cardiac arrests. The Qatari government has claimed that it has implemented a “comprehensive grievance system” for workers, but the reality is that it has failed to provide an effective remedy for families of deceased workers.

Human rights advocates have also accused Qatari authorities of negligence. In November 2017, Qatar agreed to an agreement with the UN International Labour Organisation, which includes a wide-ranging reform process. This reform includes access to justice, pay, recruitment, health and safety, and worker voice. However, Qatar has rejected compensation claims from human rights bodies. In the meantime, Amnesty International and other human rights groups are calling on FIFA to ensure the Qatari government takes concrete steps to stop exploiting migrant workers.

The UN’s Special Rapporteur on Migrant Rights called on Qatar to end the kafala system, which allows migrant workers to be trapped in the country without being allowed to leave. She described the “onerous and abusive” conditions in which migrant workers are often forced to work. In particular, women migrant workers face serious risks of abuse.

Amnesty International has also called on FIFA to address the real impacts of its decision to award the World Cup to Qatar. It has said that the tournament could be the catalyst for change in Qatar. However, it has not made any serious efforts to protect migrant workers in Qatar.

Qatar is a country of 2.1 million people, and almost 94% of its workforce is made up of migrant workers. The average migrant worker’s salary is PS60,612 per person. However, many workers are paid less than workers from other Middle Eastern countries. The International Trade Union Confederation estimates that 400 migrant workers die every year in Qatar.

In October 2013, 44 Nepalese workers died while working in Qatar. A study from Building and Woodworkers’ International revealed that the slums in which migrant workers lived were a “disgrace”. In addition, the kafala system did not have to be abolished, as it was amended.

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