Migrant workers from Nepal building facilities for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar have not been allowed to return home to attend the funerals of family members killed in last month's devastating earthquake, Nepal's labor minister told The Guardian.
“We requested all companies in Qatar to give their Nepalese workers special leave and pay for their air fare home,” labor minister Tek Bahadur Gurung said. “While workers in some sectors of the economy have been given this, those on World Cup construction sites are not being allowed to leave because of the pressure to complete projects on time. They have lost relatives and their homes and are enduring very difficult conditions in Qatar. This is adding to their suffering.”
More than 8,000 people were killed in the earthquake, which left entire villages reduced to rubble.
Qatar has been widely criticized for human rights violations in connection with its World Cup preparations. The country's government admitted in May 2014 that nearly 1,000 migrant workers from Nepal, India and Bangladesh died in 2012 and 2013.
The Guardian estimates there are 400,000 Nepalese migrant laborers working on World Cup projects in Qatar. The paper also reported in January 2014 that 185 Nepalese workers died in Qatar in 2013. A December report found that one Nepalese worker dies every two days in Qatar. More than 4,000 migrant workers are projected to die by time the first game is played in 2022, The Guardian reported in 2013.
In addition to the intolerable conditions, The Guardian reported in July that some laborers had not been paid for more than a year.
Amnesty International estimates that there are 1.5 million migrant workers in Qatar, primarily from Nepal, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.
“Qatar is failing migrant workers,” Amnesty International Gulf migrant rights researcher Mustafa Qadri said last week.
Multiple sponsors have pulled their support from the 2018 and 2022 World Cups because of the labor controversies. Visa and Coca-Cola released statements of concern last week regarding Qatar's treatment of workers.
- Dan Gartland