World Cup 2022: how many migrant workers have died in Qatar?

Soccer Football - General Views of the Lusail Stadium - Lusail, Qatar, March 28, 2022. Workers clean seats inside the Lusail Stadium, the venue for the 2022 Qatar World Cup Final REUTERS/Pawel Kopczynski

Nov 30 (Reuters) - Here is a look at migrant workers' rights issues in Qatar, which is hosting the 2022 World Cup from Nov. 20-Dec. 18:

WHAT IS QATAR'S RECORD ON MIGRANT WORKERS' RIGHTS?

* Qatar, where foreigners make up the majority of the 2.9 million population, has faced intense criticism from human rights groups over its treatment of migrant workers.

* A 48-page report by Amnesty, Reality Check 2021, said that practices such as withholding salaries and charging workers to change jobs were still rife, despite labour reforms in 2014.

* The government of Qatar said its labour system was still a work in progress but denied allegations in the report that thousands of migrant workers in the 2022 World Cup host nation were being trapped and exploited.

HOW MANY MIGRANT WORKERS HAVE DIED IN QATAR?

* Britain's Guardian reported last year that at least 6,500 migrant workers -- many of them working on World Cup projects -- had died in Qatar since it won the right to stage the World Cup, according to the paper's calculations from official records.

* In response, Qatar said that the number of deaths was proportionate to the size of the migrant workforce, and included many non-manual workers, adding that every life lost was a tragedy.

* Max Tunon, head of the International Labour Organization's (ILO) Qatar office, cautioned that Qatar worker death data is frequently reported without necessary nuance.

* "The (Guardian's) number includes all deaths in the migrant population ... without differentiation between migrant workers and the general migrant population, let alone fatalities that resulted from occupational injuries," the ILO said.

* Qatari World Cup organisers, the Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy, said that there have been three work-related fatalities and 34 non-work-related deaths among workers at World Cup 2022 sites.

* Hassan Al Thawadi, the secretary general of Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, said in a TV interview with British journalist Piers Morgan that aired on Nov. 30 that the number of migrant worker deaths at World Cup-related projects was "between 400 and 500".

WHAT CHANGES HAS QATAR IMPLEMENTED TO ITS LABOUR LAWS?

* Qatar has changed its labour laws to dismantle much of its "kafala" sponsorship system, absolving workers of the need to get the permission of the employer who sponsored their visa in order to change jobs or leave the country.

* It has also increased the minimum wage by 25% to 1,000 Qatari riyals ($274.65) a month, and applied it to all workers rather than Qataris only.

* Qatar has set up an insurance fund to help migrants that have been cheated of their wages.

HOW HAVE FOOTBALL ASSOCIATIONS ADDRESSED THE ISSUE?

* The football associations of 10 European countries, including England and Germany, wrote an open letter to FIFA ahead of the World Cup calling on the world governing body to take action to improve the rights of migrant workers in Qatar.

* A group of 11 European football associations met with FIFA earlier this month, saying that the governing body had confirmed support for a permanent ILO office in Doha that would support and advise migrant workers.

* In September, England's FA said families of migrant workers in Qatar who were injured or killed while constructing the infrastructure for this year's World Cup should be compensated.

* The shirts worn by the Netherlands team during the World Cup will be auctioned to support migrant workers in Qatar, the Dutch Football Association (KNVB) said this month.

* The Netherlands team said they will also take time during their stay in Qatar to talk to migrants who helped build the stadiums for the World Cup.

WHAT MEASURES HAVE BEEN SUGGESTED BY RIGHTS GROUPS?

* Amnesty and other rights groups have led calls for FIFA to compensate migrant workers in Qatar for human rights abuses by setting aside $440 million, matching the World Cup prize money.

* FIFA has said it was assessing Amnesty's proposition and implementing an "unprecedented due diligence process in relation to the protection of workers involved".

* FIFA added that it was working with the organising committee and had already compensated a number of workers.

* Amnesty has also outlined a 10-point action plan, calling on Qatar to "address serious gaps and remaining weaknesses in its labour reform process".

Compiled by Aadi Nair and Shrivathsa Sridhar in Bengaluru; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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