The Persian Gulf emirate of Qatar, flush with oil riches and seeking to push its way to the front of the international stage, is in the midst of an enormous, decade-long building boom to construct facilities and infrastructure for the 2022
A report last week by the government of India, which supplies a large share of Qatar's workers, suggests that more than 500 of its citizens have died there since 2012, primarily, according to the Guardian, in either on-site accidents or from working in inhumane conditions. Nepal, another big supplier of Qatar's labor force, recorded the deaths of 383 Nepali workers in that country in 2012-13.
International observers and human rights groups have described working conditions for foreign laborers in Qatar as intolerable and inhumane, citing dangerous work sites, confiscations of passports by employers, withheld wages, oppressively overcrowded worker dormitories and limited access to food and water despite 12-hour work shifts often in triple-digit temperatures. Although conditions are difficult for foreign workers in many gulf countries,
In November, at the end of an eight-day trip to Qatar,
So why should the world care? Beyond the basic human rights issue, Qatar is hosting so many foreign workers in part to turn itself into an international tourist destination, and to prepare for the 2022 World Cup. Which means that Qatar's foreign laborers are suffering to create venues for one of the world's largest displays of international cooperation. FIFA, soccer's world governing body, has joined others in criticizing Qatar, and the country recently extended limited worker safety protections at World Cup stadiums and training facilities that are under construction. But according to Amnesty International, the protections do not cover workers building roads, hotels, transportation facilities and other key infrastructure. And the new rules include no enforcement mechanism.