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

Video Analysts: Beijing Parade a 'Bazaar' of Stolen Technology

Show commemorating victory over Japan in World War II involved long, medium and short range missiles, a range of tanks and 200 fighter aircraft More

Bernie Sanders Surge Reflects US Shift on Socialism

Although most analysts say it is unlikely he will get the Democratic nomination, Sanders' campaign opens up questions and issues that are otherwise marginalized More

Video On IS Frontline, Kurdish Fighters Ready for Offensive

Peshmerga soldiers say although they need more heavy artillery, they are poised to take the fight to the Islamic State extremists on their turf More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outragei
X
Henry Ridgwell
September 04, 2015 11:36 AM
The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Drowned Migrant Toddler Photo Triggers European Outrage

The harrowing picture of a drowned three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach appears to have galvanized Europe’s leaders into doing more to address the refugee crisis. France, Germany and Italy issued a joint call Thursday for compulsory quotas of refugees for all EU states. But there were chaotic scenes in Hungary as police tried to force migrants off a train heading for Austria. Henry Ridgwell has more. And a caution, some of the images in this report may be disturbing.
Video

Video Russians Observe 11th Anniversary of Beslan School Attack

This week, Russians have been observing the 11th anniversary of the attack by Islamic militants on a school in Russia's North Caucasus region that killed more than 330 hostages, including 186 children. The three-day siege and massacre that started on September 1, 2004 took place in Beslan, a town in the republic of North Ossetia, and is one of the bloodiest terrorist acts ever in Russia. VOA's Mike Richman reports.
Video

Video Native Americans Debate: Father Serra, Saint or Sinner?

Pope Francis will canonize an 18th century missionary to Spanish California during a papal visit to the United States this month.  But some Native Americans have criticized the elevation to sainthood of the missionary priest, Junipero Serra. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Calais School Offers Another Face of Europe’s Migrant Crisis

Europe is facing mounting criticism over how it’s handling its biggest migration crisis since World War II. But not all Europeans believe building walls or passing repressive policies are the answer. A school for migrants in the French port city of Calais, is opening doors and building bonds across nationalities. VOA's Lisa Bryant reports.
Video

Video Kurdish Fighters on IS Frontline Ready for Offensive

Finger on the trigger, the Kurdish Peshmerga soldier stared across the dust at a village taken over by Islamic State extremists. The Kurdistan’s Khazir frontline, just 45 minutes from the Islamic State stronghold of Mosul. And at this point, the militants were less than two kilometers away. VOA's Sharon Behn reports.
Video

Video China Announces Troop Cuts at WWII Parade

Chinese President Xi Jinping Thursday announced plans to cut the world’s largest military force by 300,000 troops. The announcement was made during a massive military parade to commemorate victory over Japan in World War II. The event was shunned by most Western leaders and for some is raising fresh concerns about China’s military ambitions. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video Russia-Japan Relations Cool as Putin Visits China for WWII Anniversary

Russian President Vladimir Putin is in Beijing for commemorations of the 70th anniversary of China's WWII victory over Japan. Putin is expected to visit Japan later this year, but tensions between Tokyo and Moscow over islands disputed since the war, and sanctions over Ukraine, could pour cold water on the plan. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Yemen ‘on Brink of Disaster’ as Medical Shortages Soar

Aid agencies warn Yemen is on the brink of humanitarian disaster – with up to half a million children facing severe malnutrition, and hospitals running out of basic medicines. There are fears Yemen's civil war could escalate as the coalition led by Saudi Arabia tries to drive back Houthi rebels, who seized control of much of the country earlier this year. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Apps Helping Kenyan Businesses Stay Ahead of Counterfeiters

Counterfeit goods in Kenya cost the government as much as $1 billion each year in lost tax revenues. The fake goods also hurt entrepreneurs who find it hard to carve out a niche in the market and retain customers. But as Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi, information technology is being used to try to beat the problem.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.

VOA Blogs