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23 Feb 2021

Qatar: Guardian investigation finds 6,500 migrant workers have died in World Cup host country since 2010; incl. comments from FIFA

A very significant proportion of the migrant workers who have died since 2011 were only in the country because Qatar won the right to host the World Cup.
Nick McGeehan - Director, FairSquare

A Guardian investigation into migrant worker deaths in Qatar has revealed that at least 6,500 workers from India, Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Pakistan have died in the World Cup 2022 host country since 2010. The total deaths are likely to be higher because the data, collected from government sources, excluded numbers from several major sending countries to Qatar (such as the Philippines or Kenya) as well as the final months of 2020.

While death records do not show workers' occupations, it is likely that a number of them were working on infrastructure projects commissioned as the country prepares to welcome visitors during the World Cup in November and December 2022. Deaths are most commonly attributed to "natural" causes such as acute heart or respiratory failure, a classification the Guardian has previously highlighted as often failing to provide a "legitimate medical explanation" for deaths which frequently do not prompt autopsies in Qatar. Outdoor work in the intense summer heat has been cited as a factor in workers' deaths from heat stress.

There is a real lack of clarity and transparency surrounding these deaths. There is a need for Qatar to strengthen its occupational health and safety standards.
May Romanos - Gulf Researcher, Amnesty International

The Qatar Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy and FIFA were approached for comment by the Guardian. FIFA's statement in response to the Guardian investigation can be read in full below.

We deeply regret all of these tragedies and investigated each incident to ensure lessons were learned. We have always maintained transparency around this issue and dispute inaccurate claims around the number of workers who have died on our projects.
Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy

Following the publication of the Guardian report, Reuters reported that the Dutch government has postponed a trade mission to Qatar, citing concerns relating to the report and living conditions of migrant workers in the country who are helping to prepare for the World Cup. Qatar has not yet responded to the decision from the Dutch government.