1,400 migrant workers die in Qatar building World Cup football stadiums: TV documentary

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In this screen grab from a WDR documentary video posted on YouTube, foreign laborers are seen at work at a stadium being built in Qatar in preparation for the 2022 World Cup. (Benjamin Best Productions GmbH video via YouTube)
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In this screen grab from a WDR documentary video posted on YouTube, foreign laborers are seen at work at a stadium being built in Qatar in preparation for the 2022 World Cup. (Benjamin Best Productions GmbH video via YouTube)
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This screen grab from a WDR documentary video posted on YouTube shows Nepali construction workers being interviewed at their quarters in Qatar. (Benjamin Best Productions GmbH video via YouTube)
Updated 08 June 2019
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1,400 migrant workers die in Qatar building World Cup football stadiums: TV documentary

  • WDR’s investigative documentary, titled “Trapped in Qatar,”  exposed the harrowing plight of workers forced to live in crowded camps without many basic human needs
  • “I can vouch for 150 deaths per year. For me it was difficult to see the pain of the workers,” Katmandu-based journalist says

NEW DELHI: At least 1,400 migrant workers from Nepal have died while helping to build football stadiums for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar, a shock TV documentary has revealed.

Construction site accidents and squalid living conditions in the Gulf state are claiming around 110 lives every year, according to Nepali government figures.  

And bereaved families of dead workers told German broadcaster WDR that they had received no compensation from Doha for their tragic losses.

WDR’s investigative documentary, titled “Trapped in Qatar,” on Friday exposed the harrowing plight of workers forced to live in crowded camps without many basic human needs.

Despite Nepal’s efforts to discourage its citizens from heading to Qatar for work, many still leave in the hope of finding better-paid jobs.

One Nepali stadia construction worker, Dil Prasad, said: “We are captured, and every day we nourish ourselves on water and bread. Without money we can’t do anything else. Month on month our situation gets worse. I’m not sure how much longer I can do it. I just want to go home. We can’t even call our families in Nepal.”

Dinesh Regimi, a Katmandu-based journalist who spent three years in Qatar as a reporter, said conditions for Nepali workers had not improved since Doha won its bid to stage the prestigious football competition almost a decade ago.

“When I was there few years ago, I saw only suffering of Nepali workers who migrated to that inhospitable country with lots of hope. They were denied a basic salary, their living conditions were very bad and there was always a long queue (of migrant workers) in the Nepali embassy in Doha seeking relief and intervention,” Regimi told Arab News.

He added: “The migrants faced difficulties returning home. Some died while working, some passed away while sleeping. The heat and living conditions claimed many lives. The Qatari government would not conduct any post-mortems on these workers.

“I can vouch for 150 deaths per year. For me it was difficult to see the pain of the workers.”

In 2017, Regimi travelled to Nepal to meet families who had lost loved ones working in Qatar.

Kishore Tamang from the Bara district of Nepal, around 250 km south of the capital Katmandu, went to Qatar in 2015 hoping to earn enough money to pay off family debts. But within a year he was dead, after being killed in a fall from a wall at a new football stadium being built for the World Cup. No compensation was paid to his family.

It was a similar story for the family of Jagat Nepali from the Nuwakot district. Within six months of arriving in Qatar he suffered a cardiac arrest brought on, his relatives said, by the intolerable heat and poor living conditions in the migrant workers’ camp.

A government official from Nepal’s Department of Immigration, told Arab News: “We are aware of the situation in Qatar and the difficulties Nepali workers face there. We try to discourage people from going to such places.”


Internet a lifeline for Venezuela’s embattled independent media

In this file photo taken on June 13, 2019 A journalist works in one of the newsrooms of the Panorama newspaper in Maracaibo, Venezuela. (AFP)
Updated 17 July 2019
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Internet a lifeline for Venezuela’s embattled independent media

  • Regional newspaper Panorama, which served Venezuela’s second city Maracaibo, struggled on until May 14 when “a perfect storm” of massive power cuts finally sounded it’s physical death knell

CARACAS: Starved of advertising revenue and battling a stranglehold on the newspaper industry by the government, Venezuela’s independent media have been decimated by the country’s years-long crisis — with many migrating online to survive.
“It was a course we couldn’t get away from,” Jorge Makriniotis, manager at the 75-year-old El Nacional, told AFP.
The newspaper ran its last physical edition — which had already dropped from 72 to just 16 pages — on December 13 last year.
Like many other former print media, it is only available on the Internet now.
In 2013, Venezuela’s socialist government created a state-run company to control the import and distribution of paper.
Carlos Correa, director of the Espacio Publico non-governmental organization, said the move created “discriminatory dynamics” that saw pro-regime media favored — while others were starved of printing paper, and advertising revenue.
Since then, 58 daily newspapers have ceased circulation, Correa says.
“There’s never been an official response” to the claims from independent media, said Gisela Carmona, the director of El Impulso — one of the papers that has migrated online, requiring an investment of more than a million dollars.
After 100 years in print, the newspaper disappeared from the streets in February 2018, having received no paper for 12 months.

Beyond controlling paper supply, critics accuse the Venezuelan government of oppressing dissenting media voices across the board.
The national union of press workers has denounced a “systematic policy” of asphyxiation as dozens of independent radio and television stations also closed.
“Over the past years, the Government has attempted to impose a communicational hegemony by enforcing its own version of events and creating an environment that curtails independent media,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet in a report on Venezuela earlier this month.
One example from 2018 saw El Nacional lose a case brought by Diosdado Cabello, widely regarded as the most powerful regime figure after President Nicolas Maduro, for having published drug-trafficking allegations made against him in the Spanish press.
The economic crisis had a major impact on the media too, as on all businesses.
Five years of recession and rampant hyperinflation — which the International Monetary Fund expects to reach a staggering 10 million percent this year — have decimated advertising revenues.
Carminda Marquez opened a kiosk in Caracas 18 years, selling dozens of newspapers and other publications.
“Now I sell three or four,” said the 80-year-old.
Regional newspaper Panorama, which served Venezuela’s second city Maracaibo, struggled on until May 14 when “a perfect storm” of massive power cuts finally sounded it’s physical death knell, its editorial director Maria Ines Delgado told AFP.
Panorama never had to lay off any journalists as one by one they resigned and left for foreign shores.
“Every time we replaced one, another left,” Delgado said from a near-empty editorial room.
Like El Impulso, Panorama is now fed by banner advertising.

The move online has not solved independent media’s myriad problems, though, least of all the ability to reach readers.
Between frequent power outages, patchy Internet and the second slowest connectivity in Latin America — after landlocked Paraguay — readers have trouble loading pages, especially on smartphones.
“We know nothing any more,” complained Belkis Nava, who used to read Panorama.
Despite the difficulties, some journalists have launched new media directly on the Internet, such as El Pitazo.
Specializing in investigative journalism — it won the prestigious Ortega y Gasset prize awarded by Spanish newspaper El Pais this year — El Pitazo supported itself through a 2017 crowdfunding campaign, director Cesar Batiz told AFP.
However, like other news websites, El Pitazo has come under cyberattack — four times over two years.
Before the first attack in 2017, El Pitazo had 110,000 visits a day. Traffic has since dropped by more than half, and 65 percent of that comes from abroad.
“People aren’t receiving information,” said Melanio Escobar, the director of the Redes Ayuda (Network Help) NGO.