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

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.”


Coronavirus pushes reluctant Aung San Suu Kyi to Facebook

Updated 01 April 2020

Coronavirus pushes reluctant Aung San Suu Kyi to Facebook

  • "I had no willingness to join Facebook at first," Suu Kyi wrote in the first post on the account
  • The new personal page has already drawn more than 400,000 likes

Myanmar leader Aung San Suu Kyi cited the coronavirus pandemic as the impetus for reluctantly creating her first personal Facebook account in a post on Wednesday.
Since coming to power in 2016, Suu Kyi has largely communicated through formal statements and public meetings. She rarely gives press conferences or interviews.
"I had no willingness to join Facebook at first," Suu Kyi wrote in the first post on the account, which was quickly verified with a blue tick to show it as genuine.
"Under the current circumstances, it was created in order to communicate with people faster and more efficiently related to Covid-19 challenges," said Suu Kyi.
Myanmar has confirmed 15 cases of the virus and one death. The health ministry has warned of a "major outbreak" after tens of thousands of migrant workers returned from neighboring Thailand.
Suu Kyi recently appeared in a video on state media, washing her hands and instructing others to do likewise to stop coronavirus spreading.
Government spokesman Zaw Htay shared the new Facebook account on his own page on Wednesday, saying it was legitimate.
"It is real... Not an April Fool," Nyi Nyi Tun, a spokesman for the president's office, told Reuters by phone.
The Nobel laureate, 74, spent 15 years under house arrest and missed the emergence of laptops and smartphones.
Facebook is the most important means of sharing information for many in the country of over 51 million. The social media site tells advertisers it has 23 million users living there.
A public Facebook page has operated for Suu Kyi since the time of her campaign against the former junta and has over one million followers.
The new personal page has already drawn more than 400,000 likes.