6500 migrant workers dead in Qatar as India prepares for World Cup qualifiers
Even as India prepares for the qualifiers for the Qatar World Cup, more than 6500 migrant workers have reportedly died in the country.
With the Indian football team about to resume its qualifying commitments for the 2022 Qatar World Cup with matches against Qatar, Bangladesh and Afghanistan, it is kind of a bittersweet feeling for Indian fans in more ways than one.
Firstly, India are out of contention for the showpiece event, which shouldn't come as much of a surprise, and are now focused on securing the third spot in their group. That would mean a direct berth in the third qualifying round for the 2023 Asian Games to be held in China. Secondly and more importantly, the Qatari authorities are still under fire for their inaction in terms of cracking down on labour abuses. According to a recent The Guardian report, more than 6,500 migrant workers from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Sri Lanka have lost their lives in the Middle Eastern country since it won the hosting rights for the World Cup back in 2010, mainly due to negligence on the part of the Qatari government in terms of providing conducive working conditions.
This number equates to as many as 12 migrant workers dying every week in Qatar, with the total death toll expected to be much higher because this figure doesn't account for those from countries like the Philippines and Kenya. The common consensus is that most of these migrant workers were employed on infrastructure projects for the World Cup. Nick McGeehan, the director of an advocacy group which works in the domain of labour rights, has even gone on record saying, "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."
Moreover, while many of these deaths have been directly linked to the construction of World Cup stadiums, a few have also been classified as 'non-work related', further adding to the ambiguity surrounding the published death toll. But now, Amnesty International has called on FIFA to initiate dialogue with Qatari authorities to put an end to this. The organisation has also requested FIFA President Infantino to 'use the full extent of FIFA's influence' in order to urge Qatar to fulfill its labour reform commitments ahead of the World Cup next year, according to a report on Amnesty's website.
The report also states that migrant workers comprise almost 95% of Qatar's workforce for the infrastructural projects surrounding the 2022 World Cup. With a considerable chunk of them being Indians, the national media is yet to wake up to the exploitation that our fellow countrymen are being subjected to in Qatar. Take the case of Madhu Bollapally, a 43-year-old healthy man who supposedly died of 'natural causes', and was found lying dead in his dorm. The fact that there are innumerable families involved in this fiasco is also something that has escaped the Indian government's notice. For now though, those like the family members of Bollapally have to live with the confusion surrounding their loved one's death, something that shouldn't be acceptable anywhere in the world.