Blame Qatar's Illiberal Migrant Labor Laws for Its Mounting World Cup Death Toll

Article here. These men are modern-day slaves. Excerpt:

'Since FIFA awarded Qatar the hosting rights in December 2010, more than 6,500 migrant workers are known to have died in Qatar, according to a February 2021 Guardian report. That combined number came from the governments of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. The true total may be much higher, since large numbers of Kenyans and Filipinos also are working in Qatar.

Most of these workers died while building the vast infrastructure the country needed to host the roughly 1.5 million foreign fans who are expected to attend the World Cup in November and December. In 2015, when the migrant worker death toll was at least 1,200, the BBC reported that workers were building "subways, hotels, and even an entire city…not to mention an airport, numerous roads, a new sewerage system in central Doha and 20 skyscrapers."
While workers should be free to take on dangerous jobs, it is difficult for Qatar's migrant workers to leave if they find conditions unbearable due to strict laws around labor mobility. Many pay hundreds or thousands of dollars in fees to recruitment agents just to get their jobs and never manage to pay off their debts after years of work.

Mohammad Shahid Miah, for example, paid more than $4,000 in recruitment fees to land a construction job in Qatar in 2017. In September 2020, he died of electrocution when rainwater came into contact with exposed wires in his worker housing. According to The Guardian, "the debt has now been passed on to his distraught and impoverished parents" in Bangladesh.

Qatar instituted some labor reforms in 2018 regarding permission to leave the country or switch jobs. But according to Human Rights Watch, "employers still wield tremendous control over migrant workers' lives…leaving workers debt-burdened and in constant fear of retaliation." It wasn't until January 2020 that the government allowed most migrant workers to leave without permission from their employers.'

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