Nepalese migrants building the infrastructure to host the 2022 World Cup have died at a rate of one every two days in 2014. The figure excludes deaths of Indian, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi workers, raising fears that if fatalities among all migrants were taken into account the toll would almost certainly be more than one a day. There are about 400,000 Nepalese workers in Qatar among the 1.4 million migrants working on a £137bn construction spree in the tiny Gulf state.
Qatar said it would reform the kafala system that keeps workers tied to their employer, and better enforce laws that require contractors to provide humane living conditions and ban them from seizing passports. But the system that Qatar proposed to replace kafala would still leave workers tied to their employer for the length of their contract, which could be as much as five years. Rather than scrapping the exit visa system, which in effect allows employers to stop their charges leaving the country without permission, Qatar proposed a complex procedure that still allowed employers to raise objections.
Amnesty International warned that Qatar was “dragging its feet” when it came to making meaningful changes. “Despite making repeated promises to clean up its act ahead of the World Cup, the government of Qatar still appears to be dragging its feet over some of the most fundamental changes needed, such as abolishing the exit permit and overhauling its abusive sponsorship system,” it said. “Six months later, only a handful of the limited measures announced in May have even been partially implemented. Overall, the steps taken so far are woefully insufficient.”