World Cup stadium results in 6,500 migrant deaths in Qatar

Madi Hamm, Editor in Chief

  Qatar has spent the last ten years embarking on an unprecedented construction task; building seven new stadiums, a new airport, roads, public transport systems, hotels and dozens of other projects in preparation for hosting the 2022 Men’s World Cup. Qatar won the ballot of Fifa’s 22 executive members and the right to host this tournament, beating bids from the US, South Korea, Japan and Australia. Since then, more than 6,500 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka have died during the process of assembling all aspects of this new city. 

   This has evened out to an average of 12 deaths each week of migrant workers from these five south Asian nations and data from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka revealed there were 5,927 deaths of migrant workers between 2011 and 2020. Pakistan’s embassy has also reported another 824 deaths of Pakistani workers, from 2010 and 2020. These death counts have not included reports from a number of countries who send an extensive amount of workers to Qatar, such as the Philippines and Kenya, nor the deaths totalled in the last months of 2020. 

Infographic by Madi Hamm

   Many of these deaths have been reported as alleged “natural deaths,” like acute heart or respiratory failure which categorized 69% of deaths among Indian, Nepali and Bangladeshi workers. These conclusions are made without an autopsy and often fail to provide a legitimate medical explanation for the underlying cause of these deaths. In a report made by the lawyers for Qatar’s government, they recommended that the government amend a law that would, “allow for autopsies … in all cases of unexpected or sudden death,” as reported by the Guardian, but the government has not followed through with that proposal. 

   According to the Guardian, the Qatar government says that the number of deaths, though accurate, is proportionate to the amount of migrant workers in their work force. They also claim that those figures also include the natural deaths of many white collar workers. Hiba Zayadin, Gulf researcher for Human Rights Watch, said that Qatar continues to, “drag its feet on this critical and urgent issue in apparent disregard for workers’ lives.”