It's a figure that will make people talk, again.
According to the organizers of the World Cup, 414 people died in "work-related accidents in Qatar" between 2014 and 2020. This figure comes from a press release from the organizing committee published on Wednesday, in order to specify the about Secretary General Hassan al-Thawadi, who on Tuesday mentioned an estimate ranging from “400 to 500” people, adding “that one death is already too many”, in a British television program.
These figures “refer to national statistics covering the period 2014-2020 for all work-related fatalities (414) nationwide in Qatar, all sectors and nationalities combined,” said the Qatari organizing committee.
World Cup officials also reaffirm that there have been "three work-related deaths and 37 non-work-related deaths on Supreme Committee projects", i.e. "the eight stadiums, 17 out-of-competition sites and other related sites under the committee'.
These figures were published in annual public reports between 2014 and 2021, the period during which most of the infrastructure work was carried out.
Since being awarded the World Cup in 2010, Qatar has been criticized over its labor laws and the living and working conditions of its unskilled migrant workers.
Doha has always refuted the death of thousands of immigrant workers employed on construction sites linked to the competition, advanced by certain Western media and NGOs.
, in particular, estimated that 6,500 people had died on Qatari construction sites.
Qatar also highlights the reforms implemented in recent years, in particular the dismantling of the “kafala”, a system of sponsorship which made employees quasi-properties of their employers.
The emirate has also introduced a minimum monthly wage of 1,000 riyals (about 270 euros) and limited working hours during the hottest periods of the year.
“The extent of the lives lost will never be known”
A report by the International Labor Organization (ILO), which has an office in Doha, concluded that 50 workers died in workplace accidents in Qatar in 2020 and another 500 were seriously injured.
The ILO, however, notes shortcomings in the survey and census system and admits that this number could be higher.
"Over the past decade, thousands of workers have returned to their country in a coffin, without any explanation given to their relatives," Amnesty International commented on Hassan al-Thawadi's remarks.
“The extreme heat in Qatar and the grueling working conditions likely contributed to hundreds of these deaths but, without thorough investigations, the scale of the lives lost will never be known,” added Steve Cockburn, an official with the NGO.
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World Cup 2022