Disturbing reports from Amnesty International find that as many as 15,000 migrant workers from India, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka died in Qatar during the building of the World Cup stadiums.
The number of migrant workers who actually died constructing the World Cup stadiums is not fully known. Data of the number of deaths from Qatar’s government are significantly lower, but Amnesty used data from India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Sri Lanka for their findings.
“There is clear evidence of thousands of migrant worker deaths in the lead-up to the World Cup,” said Human Rights Watch’s Michael Page.
“Over the last decade, thousands of workers have returned home in coffins, with no explanation given to their loved ones,” said Steve Cockburn, Amnesty International’s head of economic and social Justice.
Many of the migrant workers in Qatar are treated like slaves under Qatar’s kafala system. The kafala system is where workers must have a Qatari sponsor who retains power over who they work for, whether they can change jobs or even leave the country. It has been used for passport confiscation, delayed wages, stolen wages, and forced labor.
Women who are being trafficked often find themselves subjected to these practices in countries like Qatar.
These deadly practices for migrant laborers is why BTJ started a company to help exploited employees break free from the system. “This month we have been able to help 30 Pakistani Christians obtain a place to live and work permits,” Rebecca (not her real name) reported. Rebecca is the co-founder and director of BTJ’s effort to help fight exploitation of migrant workers in the Middle East and the trafficking of women. Rebecca was herself a victim of the current practices which take advantage of foreign workers in the Middle East and she now helps guide BTJ’s current efforts.