More than 400 Nepali workers have died during construction of FIFA World Cup sites in Qatar ahead of the Gulf state’s hosting of the tournament in 2022, a report is set to reveal.
According to figures from human rights group the Pravasi Nepali Co-ordination Committee, obtained by the UK’s The Guardian newspaper, the death toll could hit 4,000 by the time the event takes place. A full report on the workers’ deaths is set to be unveiled later this week.
Nepali workers comprise about 20 percent of Qatar’s migrant workforce, which also consists of nationalities including Indians, Pakistanis, Sri Lankans and Bangladeshis.
The figures are likely to provide further embarrassment for authorities in the country, which last week issued a new Workers’ Welfare Standards document, which sets out regulations "throughout the entire chain of contracting, from recruitment to repatriation".
Officials said they engaged the International Labour Organisation in formulating the standards.
The standards require contractors to set up bank accounts for their workers and to create an auditable transaction system that will help the Supreme Committee verify that all workers are being paid in full and on time.
The document has come in for criticism, however, with opposition politicians in the UK urging world football governing body FIFA to press Qatar authorities on improving the rights of workers on all construction projects ahead of the World Cup in 2022.
The Labour party’s shadow international development secretary Jim Murphy said ahead of a European Parliament hearing on the matter that FIFA "cannot pretend that the only things that matter are the pitches and the stands".
A FIFA executive committee member said on Thursday that stripping the Gulf state of the rights to host the tournament, which it secured four years ago, would be “counter-productive”.
"People have been asking when FIFA would be taking the World Cup away from Qatar but I think that would be counter-productive," Theo Zwanziger told a European Parliament sub-committee on human rights.
"It would mean the current situation, the human rights violations would go on. It would simply mean that the spotlight would be put away from them."
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