Every hour the population of Qatar increases by 20 people, with Qatar recruiting migrant workers at a remarkable rate to support its construction boom. The vast majority of these migrant workers come from South and Southeast Asia and are seeking a better life for themselves and their families back home.
But once in Qatar, migrant workers are open to numerous forms of abuse, through weakly enforced labour standards and a system of “sponsorship”, which allows unscrupulous companies to exploit them; in some cases migrant workers are in situations of forced labour.
Migrant workers’ salaries are often withheld for months, or not paid at all. They have to obtain permission from their employers to leave Qatar and 90% of workers have their passports held by their employers. This can leave many migrant workers without the means to get home, trapped in a foreign country, and alone.
Living and working conditions are frequently dire. Small, cramped, unhygienic dormitories are common and workers are sometimes made to work very long hours in temperatures that can reach 45 degrees Celsius in spite of regulations which should prevent this.
Qatar’s multi-billion dollar construction industry is set to grow as the country prepares to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Work on stadiums for the tournament is set to begin imminently, and the wider infrastructure to support the event is already under construction. With more than 100 billion dollars expected to be poured into construction in Qatar over the next 10 years the rights of migrant workers are more at risk than ever.
With the eyes of the world on Qatar as preparations for the FIFA 2022 World Cup gather pace, we urge you to take bold steps to protect the rights of migrant workers, to avoid their exploitation becoming Qatar’s legacy. We call on you to take action.