The following update comes from Sandeep Shah, a student at Penn’s School of Social Policy & Practice, who is also taking a class in our MPH program. Sandeep writes:
A recent investigative report by The Guardian compared the Nepalese laborers in Qatar to “Modern day Slaves”. It is strange to hear about slavery in a country that boasts an average per capita income of $102,000 and is spending over $150 billion to build new infrastructure for the prestigious World Cup in 2022.
However, the reality is that when Nepali workers arrive in Qatar, their passports are seized. They are made to work in extreme heat without proper safety gear, have very little or no access to food and water, live in small rooms cramped with 10-12 other people in a very unsanitary environment with no medical care, and are not paid. As The Guardian highlighted this summer, Nepalese workers in Qatar die at a rate of almost one per day. Many are young men who have sudden heart attacks. Trade unions are not allowed, and these workers basically have no rights.
It is reported that investigations are underway, but the transparency of the process and the issue of whether these workers will receive justice is still in question. The Guardian’s report suggests that FIFA — Federation Internationale de Football Association — has known about the exploitation of the workers for years and has not taken any action against it. The disturbing fact is that both officials from Qatar and FIFA are acting as if this is an isolated incident and the manipulation of migrant workers has never happened before.
If you’re concerned about the plight of Nepalese workers in Qatar you can read the full investigative report by The Guardian here and contact FIFA with your thoughts.