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15 Nov 2021

Louise Callaghan, The Times (UK)

Qatar 2022 World Cup: Returned Nepali workers reportedly developing chronic kidney disease following construction of stadiums in dangerous heat conditions; incl. comments from English FA, FIFA & Supreme Committee

See all tags Allegations

"Qatar 2022: Dying for the World Cup,"

Magar... was promised £220 a month and reasonable working conditions to work as a carpenter at the al-Thumama football stadium...

Tens of thousands of migrant labourers have built the venues, hotels and infrastructure for next year’s tournament over a decade. Today, a silent plague of suffering among them can be revealed — in the plight of people like Magar, whose lives will be cut short by life-changing kidney damage that doctors say is likely to be linked to working conditions he experienced in Qatar.

In interviews, more than a dozen doctors and public health experts — most of them in Nepal — said that, based on their interactions with patients, significant numbers of healthy young men were leaving home to work in the Gulf and returning with kidney diseases so severe that they required either transplants or dialysis. Each doctor said that they saw new cases every month — some as many as ten a week — and many said they believed that the problem was becoming increasingly acute. Three estimated that about one fifth of dialysis patients in Nepal were workers who had returned from the Gulf...

Some days Magar worked 12-hour shifts, and on others his supervisor would push his team to keep going for more than 20 hours, with only a few short breaks.

In the heat, drinking water quickly ran out, and the workers would sometimes have to wait for it to be replenished. They had to ask to use the lavatory, and permission was at times denied if there was a lot of work to do. There were few days off. Food came twice a day, mixed together in a small plastic bag...

In a separate survey of 38 nephrologists in Nepal by a team of researchers at Bournemouth University led by Dr Nirmal Aryal and Dr Pramod Regmi, the vast majority of respondents thought that returnee migrant workers were at higher risk of kidney-related problems than the general Nepali population.

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We believe that there is evidence of substantial progress being made by Qatar in relation to workers’ rights. However, we recognise there is still more to be done. Our view remains that change is best achieved by working collaboratively with others so that we can continue to ask the right questions, while always being mindful that we have our own challenges in this country.
English Football Association
The committee has no record of any worker on al-Thumama stadium suffering from CKD or any other kidney diseases. To date, 39,687 medical exams have been provided to those engaged on SC projects since 2017. The SC mandates a stringent and contractually binding heat mitigation strategy across its projects to ensure workers are protected in Qatar’s summer months. The SC is dedicated to ensuring the health, dignity, safety and security of every worker on SC projects, and our record on this matter is acknowledged in Qatar and the international community.
The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy
Fifa takes any claim concerning the rights of workers contributing to the hosting of Fifa events very seriously. In accordance with Fifa’s human rights policy and the UN guiding principles on business and human rights, Fifa works to ensure respect for human rights in all activities associated with the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022. Fifa is fully committed to continuing and further expanding its systems to ensure the welfare of workers involved in the preparation of the Fifa World Cup Qatar 2022. It is also continuing to help implement the labour reforms in Qatar and push for greater protection of workers through constructive dialogue with the SC and other authorities.