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5 Jun 2019

Matt Slater, The Independent

Qatar: Latest report on World Cup 2022 promises worker welfare progress across country but faces criticism over “non-work-related" migrant deaths

The chairman of Qatar 2022’s organising committee has admitted the “high number” of deaths recorded by the latest workers’ welfare report are a “tragedy” but insists the Gulf state is making progress... there is an alarming section on “non-work-related deaths”.

Between February 2018 and January [2019], 10 workers died away from building sites, with nine of them dying in their bedrooms and six of those being under 36. The men were aged between 26 and 49 and five of them came from Bangladesh, three from India and two from Nepal. “The Supreme Committee is cognisant that this is a high number of deaths and has been putting in place targeted programmes for early detection and treatment of potential health risks and issues,” the report says...

[The] organisation has started a medical study into the deaths with a local university, brought in annual health checks and now monitors where every worker is to make sure they are not lost in the system when moved from one site to another...

Nicholas McGeehan, an expert on workers’ rights in the Middle East, said: “These nine deaths are from only the Supreme Committee’s World Cup workers, a tiny proportion of the Qatar migrant workforce. It is unsafe to work in those conditions without very substantial safeguards, and the Qataris should have independently investigated the health risks and put those protections in place.”