Qatar not adequately investigating South Asian expat workers’ deaths: Report

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has said that Qatar, which is set to host the FIFA World Cup next year, was not adequately investigating and reporting the deaths of many workers - mostly from South Asia  - including among those who were seemingly healthy

Nov 20, 2021
Image
South Asian expat workers

The International Labour Organization (ILO) has said that Qatar, which is set to host the FIFA World Cup next year, was not adequately investigating and reporting the deaths of many workers - mostly from South Asia  - including among those who were seemingly healthy. 

In a report released on Friday, the ILO said that data collected at government-run trauma centers and ambulances in 2020 showed 50 workers died and more than 500 were severely injured. As the country gears up for the tournament--scheduled between November and December next year-- thousands of workers were included in the workforce in the last few years to speed up construction activities. 

"Most were suffered by migrant workers from Bangladesh, India, and Nepal, mainly in the construction industry. Falls from height and road traffic accidents were the top causes of severe injuries, followed by falling objects on worksites," the report said. 

The numbers could be even higher as Qatari authorities don’t classify all work-related deaths like heat-related deaths and “unexplained deaths.” 

That data gap should be addressed, with better injury investigations, head of the ILO's Qatar office, Max Tuñón, was reported as saying by Reuters. 

Responding to the report, Qatar’s Labour Ministry has said that no other country had done so many labor reforms in such a short time while also acknowledging the need to do more. 

Earlier a Guardian newspaper report also estimated over 6500 migrant workers from South Asian countries had died in Qatar in the last ten years, mainly after Doha started mega construction projects in 2010 to prepare itself to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

The report compiled the data from official sources from embassies of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka in Qatar. The findings were shocking: an estimated around 12 migrant workers died every week since December 2010.

Indians reported the highest death count of 2711 workers, Pakistan 824, Nepal 1641, Bangladesh 1018, and around 557 Sri Lankan workers died between December 2010 to November 2020. About 69 percent of deaths among Indians, Nepali, and Bangladeshi workers were described as natural deaths, according to the Guardian report.

It also added that the real numbers could be even higher as the workers from the Philippines and Kenya, which also contribute to migrants in large numbers, were not included in the report.

Surprisingly, the Qatari authorities declared most deaths, around 70 percent, due to natural reasons, meaning unrelated work-related stress and environment. The report, however, doubted it. It noted Qatari authorities often attributed the reason behind these deaths without conducting a proper autopsy.

(SAM)