Dubai (IANS): More than 700 Indian workers have died in Qatar, which will be hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup, in the last three years, data released by the Indian embassy in the affluent Gulf nation revealed.
The embassy registered 241 deaths in 2013, 237 in 2012, 239 in 2011 and 24 in January 2014.
The International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC), which works in the field of labour welfare, has also highlighted the grim conditions of foreign workers in the country, which is going through a construction spree in the run-up to the 2022 World Cup.
Sharan Burrow, general secretary of ITUC, speaking at a European Parliament hearing said: “Qatar is a slave state for 1.4 million migrant workers. It doesn’t have to be that way. Qatar chooses to build its modern nation with the labour of migrant workers and deliberately chooses to maintain a system that treats these workers as less than human.”
Trade unions, human rights groups and the International Labour Organisation (ILO) also gave evidence to European Parliament members about the need for workers in Qatar to have a proper workplace representation and to have a voice without fear of retaliation.
There are over 600,000 expatriate Indians in Qatar, many of them blue collar workers. Qatar, a country of just over two million people, has one of the highest per capita incomes in the world and the awarding of the World Cup to this tiny country is a major feather in the cap of the ruling family.
Deaths of expatriate workers in Qatar is not limited to Indians alone. Dubai-based Arabian Business online, citing figures released by the Nepal embassy in Qatar last month, said that as many as 191 Nepali workers died in 2013 and 169 in 2012.
According to reports, Britain’s opposition leaders have urged football’s world governing body FIFA to press authorities in Qatar to improve the rights of workers at all construction sites ahead of the World Cup.
Jim Murphy the British Labour Party’s shadow international development secretary, was quoted as telling the European Parliament that FIFA “cannot pretend that the only things that matter are pitches and the stands”.