News / Europe

    European Parliament Passes Qatar World Cup Resolution

    FILE - Construction workers rest during their lunch break in Doha, Qatar.
    FILE - Construction workers rest during their lunch break in Doha, Qatar.
    Reuters
    The European Parliament joined the controversy over 2022 World Cup host nation Qatar's treatment of migrant workers on Thursday when it passed a resolution expressing concern at their plight.
     
    However, it stopped short of calling for the abolition of the Kafala, or sponsorship, system under which employees cannot change jobs or leave the country without the permission of their sponsors.
     
    “The European Parliament is concerned about the situation of the migrant workers in Qatar,” said the resolution. “MEPs call on the Qatari authorities to stop detaining individuals for 'running away' from their employers.
     
    “MEPs note that at least 500,000 more migrant workers are expected in Qatar to accelerate work in preparation for the 2022 football World Cup there,” it added following a session in Strasbourg.
     
    “[They] urge FIFA to send a clear and strong message to Qatar to prevent the preparations for the 2022 football World Cup being overshadowed by allegations of forced labor.
     
    “MEPs appeal to the European corporations involved in building stadiums or other infrastructure projects in Qatar to provide working conditions that are in line with international human rights standards.

    Kafala system

    Amnesty International, Britain's Guardian newspaper and the International Trade Union Confederation have delivered scathing reports on the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar in the last few months.
     
    The reports say the construction industry is rife with abuse of migrant workers who often work long hours in searing heat, live in squalid accommodation and are sometimes denied their wages.
     
    The Greens had wanted the resolution to mention the Kafala system.
     
    “The resolution adopted today sends an important signal both to the Qatari government and international football authorities on the need to take urgent action to address the situation regarding forced and slave labor in Qatar,” said Green MEP Barbara Lochbihler in a statement.
     
    “While we regret that center-right MEPs succeeded in removing a core demand, calling for the abolishment of the Kafala system, the resolution nonetheless highlights the fundamental flaws of this system, which pushes thousands of migrant workers into a situation of forced labor.
     
    “We would urge the Qatari government to repeal the Kafala system as a matter of urgency and for FIFA to prioritize this in its relations with Qatar in the context of the world cup.”
     
    Before the session, Lochbihler had criticized FIFA's response to the reports.

    'Shoulder responsibility'

    “The response of FIFA to date has been hesitant,” she said. “FIFA must have been aware of the existing problems in Qatar before awarding the country the World Cup. They should have conditioned their decision on the implementation of concrete human rights reforms, but decided to simply push ahead.
     
    “It is not too late for FIFA and UEFA to at last shoulder their responsibility. Together with the active support of its European members, FIFA must send a clear message to Qatar to take immediate steps to address the human-rights situation of migrants.”
     
    FIFA said it “welcomed” the European parliament's resolution but could not change the situation alone.
     
    “In order to achieve a sustainable improvement of working conditions in Qatar and the wider region, a joint effort by FIFA, the business sector, the international community and the Qatari authorities is required,” said FIFA.
     
    “FIFA remains open to cooperate with all relevant bodies and authorities to tackle this issue and to ensure that the protection of migrant workers continues to be addressed with urgency.”
     
    Earlier this week, an unnamed source at Qatar's foreign ministry told the state news agency QNA that the Gulf state “attaches great importance to the promotion and protection of human rights”.
     
    The source said the government had on October 3 appointed the international law firm DLA Piper to conduct an independent and comprehensive review of the issue of migrant worker abuse.

    You May Like

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Before burial at overflowing cemeteries, unidentified dead being swapped for DNA, in case some day relatives come to learn their fate

    Russian Opposition Leader Sues Putin for Conflict of Interest

    Alexei Navalny tells VOA in exclusive interview why transfer of $2 billion from country’s wealth fund to company with ties to President Putin’s son-in-law triggered lawsuit

    How Diversity Has Changed America

    Over the past four decades, the level of diversity in the United States has increased most in these four states

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Filli
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 11, 2016 8:01 PM
    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video As Refugees Perish, Greek Graveyards Fill

    Aid workers on the Greek island of Lesbos say they are struggling to bury the increasing number of bodies of refugees that have been recovered or washed up ashore in recent months.  The graveyards are all full, they say, yet as tens of thousands of people clamor to get out of Syria, it is clear refugees will still be coming in record numbers. For VOA, Hamada Elrasam reports from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video To Fight Zika, Scientists Target Mosquitoes

    Mosquitoes strike again. The Zika virus outbreak is just the latest headline-grabbing epidemic carried by these biting pests, but researchers are fighting back with new ways to control them. VOA's Steve Baragona takes a look.
    Video

    Video Mosul Refugees Talk About Life Under IS

    A top U.S. intelligence official told Congress this week that a planned Iraqi-led operation to re-take the city of Mosul from Islamic State militants is unlikely to take place this year. IS took over the city in June 2014, and for the past year and a half, Mosul residents have been held captive under its rule. VOA's Zana Omar talked to some families who managed to escape. Bronwyn Benito narrates his report.
    Video

    Video Scientists Make Progress Toward Better Diabetes Treatment, Cure

    Scientists at two of the top U.S. universities say they have made significant advances in their quest to find a more efficient treatment for diabetes and eventually a cure. According to the International Diabetes Federation, the disease affects more than 370 million people worldwide. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video NATO to Target Migrant Smugglers

    NATO has announced plans to send warships to the Aegean Sea to target migrant smugglers in the alliance's most direct intervention so far since a wave of people began trying to reach European shores.
    Video

    Video Russia's Catholics, Orthodox Hopeful on Historic Pope-Patriarch Meeting

    Russia's Catholic minority has welcomed an historic first meeting Friday in Cuba between the Pope and the Patriarch of Russia's dominant Orthodox Church. The Orthodox Church split with Rome in 1054 and analysts say politics, both church and state, have been driving the relationship in the centuries since. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Used Books Get a New Life on the Streets of Lagos

    Used booksellers are importing books from abroad and selling them on the streets of Africa's largest city. What‘s popular with readers may surprise you. Chris Stein reports from Lagos.
    Video

    Video After NH Primaries All Eyes on South Carolina

    After Tuesday's primary in New Hampshire, US presidential candidates swiftly turned to the next election coming up in South Carolina. The so-called “first-in-the-South” poll may help further narrow down the field of candidates. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video US Co-ed Selective Service Plan Stirs Controversy

    Young women may soon be required to register with the U.S. Selective Service System, the U.S. government agency charged with implementing a draft in a national emergency. Top Army and Marine Corps commanders told the Senate Armed Services Committee recently that women should register, and a bill has been introduced in Congress requiring eligible women to sign up for the military draft. The issue is stirring some controversy, as VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from New York.
    Video

    Video Lessons Learned From Ebola Might Help Fight Zika

    Now that the Ebola epidemic has ended in West Africa, Zika has the world's focus. And, as Carol Pearson reports, health experts and governments are applying some of the lessons learned during the Ebola crisis in Africa to fight the Zika virus in Latin America and the Caribbean.
    Video

    Video Smartphone Helps Grow Vegetables

    One day, you may be using your smartphone to grow your vegetables. A Taipei-based company has developed a farm cube — a small, enclosed ecosystem designed to grow plants indoors. The environment inside is automatically adjusted by the cube, but it can also be controlled through an app. VOA's Deborah Block has more on the gardening system.
    Video

    Video Illinois Voters Have Mixed Emotions on Obama’s Return to Springfield

    On the ninth anniversary of the launch of his quest for national office, President Barack Obama returned to Springfield, Illinois, to speak to the Illinois General Assembly, where he once served as state senator. His visit was met with mixed emotions by those with a front-row seat on his journey to the White House. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
    Video

    Video Exhibit Turns da Vinci’s Drawings Into Real Objects

    In addition to being a successful artist, Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci designed many practical machines, some of which are still in use today, although in different forms. But a number of his projects were never realized — until today. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Heated Immigration Debate Limits Britain’s Refugee Response

    Compared to many other European states, Britain has agreed to accept a relatively small number of Syrian refugees. Just over a thousand have arrived so far -- and some are being resettled in remote corners of the country. Henry Ridgwell reports on why Britain’s response has lagged behind its neighbors.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.