Why nations should think twice before allowing their citizens to work in Qatar?

A tiny rich gulf country, Qatar, is a hub for migrant labors who travel here with the hope of attaining a better lifestyle and having a better income compared to the standard of their native countries. And not only people but Qatar is also heavily dependent on more than 2 million migrant labourers. On papers, this is an ideal combination of demand and supply by the recent reports of human rights abuses that the people working under a Qatari employee has been out and it doesn’t seem good.

The country is set to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament and is preparing for it from the last four years only to threaten the lives of migrant workers. The rapid construction is happening on such a huge scale whether people are living or dead hardly concerns the Qatari employees. The labourers who are here because of their financial condition readily agree to do anything even if it costs them their life. Nepal’s labour ministry confirmed the death of over 1400 Nepalese workers trapped in Qatar. That is not it. Their people don’t even dress the situation. In a shocking investigative report, carried out by the Guardian months later, it was revealed that ‘hundreds of migrant labourers in the World Cup host nation die each year, with the majority of the fatalities attributed to heart attacks or “natural causes’ ‘ by the Qatari authorities’. Many died due to what is called “sudden death syndrome” as they work under fatal levels of heat stress, toiling in temperatures of up to 45 C for up to 10 hours a day. The report added that to hide the deed, Qatar authorities did not perform postmortems, despite recommendations from the regime’s lawyers.

Qatar’s promises don’t live up to the reality on the ground. Contradicting the past events, Qatar’s representative to the UN Office in Geneva Ali bin Khalfan Al Mansouri said that his country would soon provide free tests and healthcare services to everyone who lived there. He further added that the Qatari government was also keen to protect migrant workers, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic as it pressured employers to pay wages, and launched a service to receive labor complaints.

He might have got applause for his speech but we can not be dumbfounded by his words. He didn’t mention how his country made a hole in poor people’s pockets and are leaching on their money in the name of the job requirement. A report from Amnesty International revealed that Qatar Meta Coast(QMC), a design and construction company, did not pay the dues of 100 workers despite signing a contract for facade work worth €770 million on Al Bayt Stadium. It had been seven months since the dues have not been paid.

“Migrant workers told us about the hardship they endured having worked without pay on Al Bayt Stadium for months on end. They are worried about their families, who rely on the money they send home from Qatar to pay school fees and medical bills,” said Steve Cockburn, Head of Economic and Social Justice at Amnesty International. Despite global criticism, these reports highlight that Doha doesn’t care much about its migrants, dead or alive.

If you think that this is the worst then you are wrong. In an investigation carried out by the same company. between March 2018 and July 2019, the Amnesty International unveiled the case of three companies –Hamad bin Khaled bin Hamad (HKH), United Cleaning and Hamton International (Hamton) – which in total employed over 2,000 workers who had not received their salaries for months and about 1,620 of those workers even submitted complaints to the new Committees asking for compensation.

“The Ministry did not provide any information regarding the number of cases heard by the Committees, the delays in processes, or the number of complaints successfully resolved, but said that they intervened to help negotiate payments for hundreds of workers, as well as work with local organisations to provide food and generators in workers’ camps,” said the rights group that followed the case. If countries really care about their citizens they should refrain them from going to Qatar and even if they do, there should be an extensive check on the requirement and job profile of the company.

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