Qatar has proposed a bold vision of its future in 2022
, but at what cost? In September 2013, the Guardian reported that up to 4,000 migrant workers would die
during the construction process for Qatar's staging of the football World Cup in 2022. The Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee
, an advocacy group representing Nepalese and South Asian migrant workers, estimates that 400 Nepalese have died on Qatari construction sites since 2010. Nepalese make up around 20% of the migrant workforce. In the past two years 450 Indian workers have died on construction sites.
Much of the initial attention has been on the welfare of the players, officials and fans
. FIFA, the world governing body, has now ruled out holding the tournament in summer
. Through the five hottest summer months, when migrant worker deaths peak, daytime temperatures in Doha average 40°C
(100°F) but can reach as high as 50°C (122°F).
The migrant trade is a system that exploits at multiple levels
: in theory, workers will earn £120 ($200) a month, equivalent to £0.33 ($0.5) an hour. To do this, they must pay an agent in Nepal the equivalent of more than six months of wages. In most cases they must borrow this money, bringing the total owed to around £1,050($1775) before they set foot in Qatar.
A November 2013 Amnesty report, The Dark Side of Migration
entitled found that: workers' terms and conditions were different from promised, including lower salaries: pay withheld for months, or not being paid at all
; employers left workers "undocumented" and at risk of being detained by the authorities; migrant workers passports would be confiscated to prevent them leaving the country at will; workers being made to work excessive hours with inadequate health and safety; workers were being housed in squalid accommodation. This system is known as Kafala
In November 2013 the European Parliament passed a resolution expressing concern at the plight of migrant workers
but stopped short of calling for the abolition of the Kafala system. The Kafala system is used through the Gulf. The number of migrant workers in Qatar is forecast to increase sharply. Already, migrant workers, including the smaller number of white collar migrants, account for 90% of Qatar's population of 2m
The problems have been known since 2011 and before
. Belatedly, Qatar has announced that it will issue new guidelines to protect migrant workers
. The standards will not apply to migrant workers building Qatar's infrastructure. FIFA has welcomed the move
, disclaimed responsibility for working conditions
, and ruled out stripping Qatar of the right to hold the tournament although privately officials have not, apparently, ruled out moving the tournament elsewhere