Qatar recognizes the death of hundreds of migrants on construction sites

Qatar recognizes the death of hundreds of migrants on construction sites

Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images In Qatar, like here at the Al Bayt stadium construction site in Doha, hundreds of thousands of migrant workers are employed. They come notably from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal (photo taken in January 2017).

Lars Baron/Bongarts/Getty Images

The Secretary General of the Organizing Committee estimates this Monday, November 28 the number of worker deaths between 400 and 500. (Photo: In Qatar, construction site of the Al Bayt stadium, in Doha, in January 2017).

SOCCER – “ One death is one too many”. The boss of the 2022 World Cup, Hassan Al-Thawadi, estimated this Monday, November 28 that around “400 to 500 migrant workers” had died following the work carried out on the construction sites of the tournament. This declaration, made during an interview given to the British journalist Piers Morgan on TalkTV, marks a clear change in the discourse hitherto held by Qatar, which has always refuted the figure of “6,500 workers” who died on the construction sites.

A survey of the British daily The Guardian had indeed revealed at the beginning of 2021 that 6,500 workers from India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka had died during the construction of the stadiums. A figure from official sources, but widely disputed by Qatari organizers and Fifa. According to the head of the body that governs world football, Gianni Infantino, at most three people had lost their lives on the construction sites.

But as evidenced the interview (in English) that you can watch below, this estimate is now largely revised upwards by the secretary general of the Organizing Committee of the World Cup. While still remaining very far from the figures of the Guardian and the various NGOs that worked on the file.

“Improvements need to be made”

Questioned by Piers Morgan on the number of deaths of migrant workers resulting from the works, Al-Thawadi indeed estimates that“between 400 and 500” are dead, before adding: “I don’t have the exact figure.” One death is one death too manyhe continues, It’s simple: every year, our health and safety standards have improved, at least on our construction sites, those of the Mondial, to such an extent that we have representatives of German and Swiss unions who have commented on this improvement. »

One of the most important figures in the country, particularly very close to the Emir, nevertheless concedes that “improvements need to be made” for the workers working on these sites, “ whether it’s our health and safety standards, improving accommodation standards or dismantling the Kafala system (market which is mainly based on African and Asian workers, editor’s note)”.

Progress already begun well before the World Cup after Hassan Al-Thawadi who still provides “These are improvements that we knew we had to make because of our own values. » According to him, the World only had a role of “of accelerator and catalyst because of the spotlights” on human rights issues.

homosexuals” run no risk » in Qatar

Another subject strongly criticized since the awarding of the World Cup to Qatar is also discussed during this interview: the question of LGBT + rights. England and seven other European nations have notably been asked not to wear “One Love” armbands, a symbol of the fight against discrimination, during matches, under penalty of sporting sanctions for their players.

On this point, the speech of the boss of Qatar brought in a very agreed answer, affirming that “If it was done specifically to address Qatar, I have a problem with that. (…) If the European nations had planned to wear it constantly, then it is up to them to decide. »

Piers Morgan then pointed to the yellow cards given to players wearing the “One Love” armbands, to which Al-Thawadi replied: “It’s a decision taken between FIFA and the European nations.” The Secretary General of the Organizing Committee finally insisted on the fact that homosexuals do not run any risk to be or live in Qatar, only advancing a cultural difference with the Western world, in particular in the way of behaving in public. A way of not even addressing the fact that homosexuality is illegal in Qatar.

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