The construction of the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, an “outdoor prison”: “I’m starving”

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Migrant workers preparing infrastructure are months unpaid and in operating conditions, according to Human Rights Watch

I’m starving, I don’t even have the money to pay for food. How will I get my loans back if I don’t have a salary at the end of the month? Sometimes I think suicide is my only option . ” At Gopal , 34, is an engineer working in Nepal’s infrastructure construction of the World Cup 2022 hosts Qatar . He has not received any income for seven months , almost 3,000 euros outstanding.

At the Eric , a Kenyan plumber of 26 years, he promised $ 330 wage base, but there give 100 less.

“They promised me I would have free accommodation and they would give me food. Being a worker in Qatar is like being in an open-air prison. You seem to be free, but you are trapped. I only count the days to come home with my people. ”

They flee poverty and unemployment in countries like Nepal, Bangladesh or India, but what they find are wage abuses that lead them to go into debt and get caught up in a visa blackmail mechanism.

This is the situation denounced this Monday by Human Rights Watch in an extensive report where it has interviewed more than 93 migrants working in more than 60 different compan 95% of the workforce in Qatar are migrants, a total of 2 million people. Many of them are building stadiums, transport infrastructure or hotels for the 2022 Qatar World Cup.

Security guards, cleaning staff, management or workers report living conditions and an income level that does not allow them to even buy food. Some have gone into debt in order to survive.

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Without receiving the salary

About sixty workers have explicitly corroborated these abuses : 9 say the company will not pay them because they do not have enough customers; 55 are not paid overtime despite working more than 10 hours a day and 13 complain that their initial contract has been changed to favor the employer. Twenty did not receive the discharge and a dozen their salaries were reduced arbitrarily.ies.

Some conditions aggravated by the crisis of the Covidien-19 . Human Rights Watch Deputy Director for the Middle East and North Africa Michael Page notes that ten years after Qatar won the 2022 World Cup, migrant workers continue to face wage delays, non-payment or wage reductions.

“We know of workers starving to death due to delays in wage payments, indebted employees leaving their skin in Qatar for poorly paid salaries, and workers trapped in abusive working conditions for fear of reprisals.”

Amnesty International also referred to it this year, calling it the ” World of Shame “.

“Migrants building a modern stadium for the World Cup are being abused and exploited, while FIFA is reaping huge benefits.”

As an example of the systemic situation on which the world’s leading football event is being built, not only lower-ranking workers are suffering from these abuses.

A human resources manager at a construction company in charge of the outside of the main stadium said his salary had been delayed by up to four months at least five times during 2018 and 2019. ” This delay affects me a lot because I am late to pay the expenses of my children’s credit card, rent or school, “he complains. The Kafala system, origin of exploitation

Working conditions in Qatar are governed under the Kafala system , which requires unskilled workers to have a local sponsor, which is usually the company that hires them, which is responsible for their visa and legal status. A practice denounced by human rights organizations because they lead to the exploitation of employees, who are blackmailed into signing a salary if they want their passport returned.

The Kristina , a waitress of 20 years in the Philippines, was forced by her to sign a five-year contract, forced to schedule the day, and if he refused they threatened to be returned his country “without anything.” He also denounces living conditions:

“In the accommodation, we often didn’t have water or electricity for days. We couldn’t cook or go to the toilet.

In 2017, Qatar promised to eliminate the Kafala system, and while it introduced some measures that have weakened it, the mechanism still gives bosses uncontrolled power over migrant workers, according to HRW.

Wage abuses are also due to deceptive hiring practices in both Qatar and the workers ’home countries, forcing them to pay between $ 700 and $ 2,600 to secure jobs in Qatar .

When they arrive in the country, then, they are already in debt and trapped in jobs in which they do not earn or earn less than expected. Of the employees interviewed by the NGO, 72 had applied for loans to pay only these hiring fees.

The Qatari government created what it calls the Wage Protection System in 2015, a Labor Dispute Resolution Committee in 2017 and a workers’ support and insurance fund in 2018. But HRW notes the inefficiency and inability of these bodies to improve the situation.

“Time is running out and Qatar must show that it will fulfill its promise to abolish the Kafala system, improve wage control systems, and take new measures to address abuses in wage conditions,” says the head of the NGO, Michael Page

Beyond the appeal to the government of Qatar, the NGO addresses FIFA and asks for a role of intervention in the country to live up to the problem. And at the height of what is the most important football event in the world.



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