Qatar is investing billions in the 2022 World Cup and a city of the future. At the expense of a workforce treated like prison inmates. Officials say only labor brokers are to blame
20-year-olds dying suddenly of heart attacks? At least 44, mostly young men died in the period from 4. June to 8. August in Qatar, almost every day. More than half die of heart failure – or occupational injury. According to a Guardian report, the causes are not accidental, but are linked to the brutal, exploitative working conditions to which Nepali workers are subjected in Qatar.
Qatar is one of the rich Gulf states from which a lot of money flows into the support networks of jihadist or Salafist militias. The accusation is officially denied by the Qatari ruling house, but in the so-called informed circles there is no doubt about the donations to radical Islamic opposition groups in Syria. Qatar also played a central role in supporting the Libyan and Tunisian Islamists; allegedly also in Egypt and in Africa (The interventionist emirate).
The former ruler Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani made no secret of his sympathy for Wahabism, nor of the mission he derived from it (cf. Qatar embraces Wahhabism to strengthen regional influence). His son Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, who took over in the summer, is acting more cautiously, but on the same course.
A lot of money, then, for violent fundamentalists who stir up conflicts in the Middle East and North Africa, preach hatred of Shiites, and set the clock to the time just after stone worship in the 6th century. The country is trying to turn back the clock to the twentieth century, but at home, it is opting for glamour that competes with Western modernity, at the expense of workers imported from poorer countries. The contrast is striking.
"Open jail" for foreign workers
As "Open jail" For foreign workers, Nepal’s ambassador to Qatar, Maya Kumari Sharma, called the Gulf state, a diplomatic crisis between Qatar and Nepal and the demand for resignation inevitably followed . As a 2008 article in the Gulf News shows, the underlying plight has long been true.
At the time, the two countries were trying to reach an agreement on an amnesty for Nepalese workers who preferred to flee Qatar. This already shows two things. That the workers from Nepal are so badly off that they are leaving. And that the Qatari authorities are quite involved in threatening penalties.
One must keep this in mind: Nepal sends workers to Qatar, who cannot stand the conditions there and flee under the most difficult circumstances, and then has to ask Qatar not to punish the workers. The master-servant relationship still applies: the Nepalese ambassador had to take back her critical remark as a matter of course.
Forced labor, inadequate water supply and wages withheld
In the past year, more than 100.000 workers from Nepal to Qatar; they make up about 40 percent of the workers who come from other countries, according to the Guardian. According to Qatari data 400.000 workers from Nepal employed in the Gulf state.
On the basis of documents, own research, witness statements and testimonies of people familiar with the situation, a picture emerges of unbearable working conditions, which the newspaper describes with "modern slavery" The following can be described: Forced labor, inadequate supplies ("We were working on an empty stomach for 24 hours"), no water when working for hours on end in the heat of the desert, wage cuts due to greed on the part of the labor brokers, accommodation like in prison cells ("sleeping 12 to a room in places and getting sick through repulsive conditions in filthy hostels").
The linchpin of the exploitative apparatus, according to the newspaper, are the labor brokers. They make themselves pay dearly for the mediation. The workers from Nepal have to pay hefty sums, which are mostly paid for by loans from the employment agencies. They charge extraordinarily high interest rates – "up to 36".
With employment agencies taking away passports, visas and work papers, workers are trapped in complete dependency. Which is why they can force the mediators to do the hardest work, such as digging ditches in the desert, and, at their whim, reduce the already low wages (see the "Minimum wage discussion" in Qatar) withhold.
The business is going well. Qatar has huge construction projects underway: Around $100 billion to be invested in infrastructure expansion as part of 2022 Fubball World Cup. Auber for nine bragging stages ("state of the art") the ruling house also wants to put money into road construction, 20 billion; four billion for a causeway between Qatar and Bahrain, 24 billion for high-speed rail links. A new airport is almost finished, new hotels are being built.
The construction of the "Future City" Lusail City is another billion-dollar prestige project.
Responsibility and will
The responses of companies and official bodies – the Lusail Real Estate Development Company, the Qatar 2022 Supreme Committee (Q 22) and the Qatari Ministry of Labor – to the allegations distance themselves from responsibility for the miserable and deadly working conditions.
They point to precise legal guidelines they have set to guarantee good conditions and wages, to their cooperation with human rights groups to protect workers’ rights, and, like the Ministry of Labor, to the fact that they have instructed the police to immediately investigate any evidence of violations of Qatari labor law.
The more coarse employers, such as.B. Halcrow (Consulting Engineers Architects Ltd) for their part, evade responsibility by pointing to contractors who provide the workers.
This summer, Qatar launched an official request to Nepal for more skilled workers. Efforts will be made to address workers’ problems with labor brokers, such as the withholding of identity documents. This is a clear indication that there are political and administrative ways to put prere on the labor brokers and to oppose the slave trade. If the will was there.