Fifa asked to act after 185 Nepalis die building Qatar World Cup stadiums

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 26 January, 2014, 5:35am
UPDATED : Sunday, 26 January, 2014, 5:35am

The extent of the risks faced by migrant construction workers building the infrastructure for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar has been laid bare by official documents revealing that 185 Nepali men died last year alone.

The 2013 death toll, which is expected to rise as new cases come to light, is likely to spark fresh concern over the treatment of migrant workers in Qatar and increase the pressure on Fifa to force meaningful change.

According to the documents the total number of verified deaths among workers from Nepal is now at least 382 in two years alone.

The revelations forced Fifa's president, Sepp Blatter, to promise that soccer would not turn a blind eye to the issue.

The Nepalis make up about a sixth of Qatar's two million-strong population of migrant workers. Verified figures for the 2013 death rates among those from India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and elsewhere have yet to emerge.

Pravasi Nepali Co-ordination Committee, a Nepalese organisation working with the families of dead workers to repatriate their bodies and campaign for adequate compensation from the companies that employed them, said yesterday that Fifa should do more.

The Guardian investigation last year revealed that at least 44 Nepali workers had died in Qatar between June 4 and August 8, more than half of them of heart attacks, heart failure or workplace accidents. But the full list of deaths recorded during the year, collated by the Nepalese NGO, shows that the actual figure is much higher.

In June, July and August alone 65 deaths were recorded by the PNCC during summer months when temperatures can regularly top 40 degrees Celsius. The causes included traffic accidents, blunt injuries, fractures from falls, and suicide. But more than 65 of the deaths last year are ascribed to "sudden cardiac arrests" and more than half to some kind of heart failure. Campaigners believe the cause of death is often officially listed as a cardiac arrest because it covers a "multitude of sins".