February 18, 2014 1:59:10 am
over 450 Indian migrants employed in Qatar have died in the last two years, data accessed by a Right To Information request has revealed, even as the Gulf state faces tremendous pressure to prove its rights record before it hosts the 2022 FIFA World Cup.
In response to the RTI query, the Indian embassy in Qatar provided figures for the number of deaths in 2012 and the first 11 months of 2013. On average about 20 Indian migrants died per month, peaking at 27 in August last year. There were 237 fatalities reported in 2012 and another 218 up to December 5, 2013.
The embassy did not provide details of the circumstances leading to the deaths or where they occurred, and also declined handing over any correspondence between the embassy and the Indian government regarding the treatment of its nationals.
Qatar’s human rights record has been under scrutiny as it cranks up building work ahead of hosting footballs biggest tournament. Most building projects undertaken use the help of migrant labourers from South Asia.
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In November last year, Amnesty International had said that workers were being treated like “animals” in Qatar, and urged football’s governing body FIFA to press Qatar to improve conditions for foreign labourers.
FIFA’s executive committee member Theo Zwanziger had said last Thursday that the World Cup could help improve the country’s “appalling” human rights record as it invites closer scrutiny.
The Guardian reported over the weekend that 400 Nepalese migrants died at building sites in Qatar.
On February 11, Qatar issued new guidelines aimed at protecting expatriate workers. The embassy in Qatar said the exact number of Indians in Qatar was unknown, but was estimated to be about 500,000 (about 26 per cent of Qatar’s population) at the end of 2012.
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