News / Middle East

Rights Campaigners: Qatar World Cup Workers Suffer ‘Widespread Abuses’

Rights Campaigners: Qatar World Cup Workers Suffer ‘Widespread Abuses’i
X
November 19, 2013 2:00 AM
Construction is getting under way in Qatar on the stadiums, hotels and infrastructure that will host visitors to the 2022 FIFA World Cup (football/soccer) finals. But human rights group Amnesty International, along with the United Nations, says the millions of migrants that Qatar is relying on to build the venues suffer from widespread abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Henry Ridgwell
Construction is getting under way in Qatar on the stadiums, hotels and infrastructure that will host visitors to the 2022 FIFA World Cup (football/soccer finals). But human rights group Amnesty International, along with the United Nations, says the millions of migrants that Qatar is relying on to build the venues suffer from widespread abuses.

Toiling away on vast construction sites springing up from the sands and artificial islands, Qatar’s 1.35-million-strong army of foreign workers is the manpower behind Doha’s ever-changing skyline.

But human rights groups say the workers’ living and working conditions fail to match Qatar’s futuristic ambitions.

Amnesty International found many workers living 10 or 15 in one small room with no air conditioning, in temperatures reaching 45 degrees Celsius.

Between the blocks there's overflowing sewage and rotting trash.

Many of the migrants were also denied their wages, says Audrey Gaughran, director of Global Issues at Amnesty International.

“We found workers who hadn’t been paid for months - six to nine months - and were still being compelled to go to work," she said. "We found workers living in terribly squalid conditions in labor camps.”

Most of the workers are from south and Southeast Asia - countries like Nepal, India and Sri Lanka. Even if they wanted to return home, they can’t, says Gaughran.

“Migrant workers cannot leave the country without an exit permit, and their employer has to sign off on that," she said. "And they can’t change jobs without their employer’s permission.”

Among six workers living in a tiny room without any power is Aniruda Kumar, who is from Nepal.  He said that he and his friends eat once a day and the rest of the time they stay hungry. "Our rice is finished and we have no money for any more," he said.  "We sleep hungry, but what can we do?"

Rights groups are also sounding the alarm on workplace safety.

The International Trade Union Confederation has warned that based on current mortality figures, construction for the World Cup could cost the lives of 4,000 migrant workers by 2022.

Bhupendra Malla Thakuri, also from Nepal, finally won a court battle against his employers this year after an accident in 2011 that nearly killed him. Thakuri said he used to work from 4 a.m. to 10 or 11 p.m. non-stop. If he asked to stop and eat, the company official used to say, ‘What have you come here for, to work or to eat?’

The Qatari government has yet to respond to the Amnesty report but says conditions for World Cup construction workers will be ‘suitable.’

The United Nations' Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants, Francois Crepeau, says now is the time to act.

"It probably increases the challenges, because the number of workers will increase again quite dramatically in the coming years," he said. "But it also provides an opportunity because of the visibility, the scrutiny under which Qatar finds itself.”

Football’s world governing body FIFA has said it will raise the issues with Qatari authorities. Human rights groups say FIFA has the power to go much further in pushing for better workers’ rights.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More