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29 Nov 2022

Qatar 2022: Supreme Committee says tournament work related deaths estimated at 400, raises concern on transparency around migrant workers' deaths


A recent declaration in an interview on migrant workers death by the Secretary General of the Supreme Committee has sparked controversy. When asked about the number of deaths directly related to work on World Cup projects he said the estimate could be up to 500 deaths. Previously, the Supreme Committee has denied reports of high numbers of deaths related to the tournament, saying deaths that could be directly linked to World Cup projects do not exceed 3.

NGOs and journalists having expressed concern over transparency of data around migrant workers deaths. Qatar has also been previously criticised for not properly investigating deaths of migrant workers, and the medical discrimination they face in Qatar.

“The estimate is around 400, between 400-500...I don’t have the exact number, that’s something that’s been discussed. One death is a death too many, plain and simple...I think every year the health and safety standards on the sites are improving, at least on our sites."
Hassan Al-Thawadi, Secretary General of the Supreme Committee
"A casual assertion like this during a media interview, midway through the tournament, with no details provided, just raises more questions and highlights the shambolic way the Qatari authorities have dealt with the issue of workers’ deaths for a decade and more."
James Lynch, Founding director at FairSquare via Twitter
"“Over the last decade, thousands of workers have returned home in coffins, with no explanation given to their loved ones. Qatar’s extreme heat and gruelling working conditions are likely to have contributed to hundreds of these deaths, but without full investigations the true scale of lives lost can never be known. Meanwhile, families are suffering the added anguish of severe financial insecurity that comes from losing the main wage earner...There can be no excuse for denying families truth, justice and compensation any longer"
Steve Cockburn, Amnesty's Head of Economic and Social Justice

After Hassan Al-Thawadi's comments, the Supreme Committee issued a clarification saying this new figure is for work-related deaths of all nationalities and sectors which occurred between 2014 and 2020.

Shortly after this new figure from Al-Thawadi, the UN urged Qatar to launch an investigation into migrant workers death.

""We urge the State of Qatar to investigate deaths of migrant workers, to collect transparent and comprehensive data on the causes of these deaths, and to establish whether they were work-related"
Liz Throssell, deputy spokesperson at the United Nations Commission on Human Rights