279 migrant Indian workers died in Qatar last year, Amnesty report says

As many as 279 migrant workers from India, one of the largest migrant worker sending countries, died in 2014 in Qatar – the host of 2022 Fifa World Cup, Amnesty International said in its latest report.

Titled “Promising Little, Delivering Less: Qatar and Migrant Abuse ahead of the 2022 Football World Cup”, the report cites official statistics of the government of India.

According to figures released by the London-based human rights body, 279 Indian migrant workers died in Qatar in 2014. These figures are of migrant worker deaths from all causes, including fatalities not directly related to labour conditions.

“441 number of migrant workers from India and Nepal, the largest migrant worker sending countries, who died in Qatar in 2014,” says the report, that puts the number of Nepalese deaths at 162.

At the heart of Qatar’s construction boom and the unprecedented global scrutiny on the country is the 2022 Fifa Football World Cup. Three issues have dominated global media coverage of the World Cup in Qatar: allegations of corruption in the tournament bidding process; concerns about the summer temperatures in Qatar; and the exploitation of migrant construction workers.

The briefing reviews Qatar’s progress on all nine issues identified which include the issues on which the government promised reform in May, 2014. Only immediate steps by the Qatari authorities and key stakeholders such as Fifa can begin to address migrant labour abuse in Qatar, it said.

Bilateral agreements between Qatar and several countries, including Nepal, the Philippines and India, oblige Qatari employers to bear the cost of hiring workers from labour-sending countries.

“However enforcement of these agreements is inconsistent, limited or non-existent, and Qatar has not provided any details on how it will address this,” it said.

“My company has never given me my ID so at any time the police can arrest me and I will be stuck in jail. Because of this I rarely leave my camp. My life is just the construction site and this dirty room,” said Ganga Prasad, a construction worker.

“If I could I would change jobs, but I can’t because my sponsor has my passport and won’t let me work for another company,” he said.

According to a Guardian report, the Qatari government disputed many of the Amnesty accusations, insisting: “Significant changes have been made over the last year to improve the rights and conditions of expatriate workers.”

In a statement, the government said it had appointed 294 labour inspectors, a number that it said would rise to 400 by year-end, and added that new accommodation for 2,50,000 workers was being built.