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22 Sep 2022

Pete Pattisson, The Guardian (UK)

Migrant workers in Qatar left in debt after being ordered home before World Cup starts

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Thousands of poorly paid migrant workers in Qatar are being forced to return home before the World Cup, leaving many fearing they will be left jobless, unable to support their families and deep in debt...

The Guardian interviewed 25 labourers employed on the Corniche. Most said they had expected to be in Qatar for two years but were being sent home far sooner – in some cases after just 10 months. Many of those interviewed have now returned to their own countries.

Some workers who spoke to the Guardian said they had not been working long enough to repay the huge sums – equivalent to four or five months’ basic salary in Qatar – that they borrowed to pay recruitment agents...

All the workers interviewed said they had no choice but to leave...

Many blamed the World Cup for the sudden end to their work...

The workers interviewed by the Guardian are employed by UrbaCon Trading & Contracting Company (UCC) and InfraRoad, both subsidiaries of UCC Holding, on a project to upgrade the Corniche.

Most of the affected workers appear to have been hired on short-term “project visas”, but say they were told they would be employed for at least two years. Letters from InfraRoad offering workers jobs in August 2021 – after the government circular was published – appear to back this up...

UCC Holding did not respond to repeated requests for comment.