Migrants who seek employment in Qatar in hope of a better future for their families often end up worse than they began, a Guardian report has found. Further information has released this week regarding the lack of human rights and labour protection for migrants in Qatar, specifically in preparation for the 2022 FIFA World Cup. This lack of protection for migrants is just one example of a global concern.
Migrants for the world cup have commonly been sourced from countries such as India, Nepal and Bangladesh; many in an attempt to help themselves and their families escape poverty. A large portion were sourced through recruitment agents which are outlawed but continue to operate. Amnesty International found that migrants pay between USD$4oo and USD$4000 to these agencies to be sent to Qatar, to then receive less than their promised amounts; an average monthly salary of USD$220. There are also reports where salaries were delayed or not paid at all; one man telling Amnesty workers that his family in Nepal is now homeless and he can no longer pay for his children to go to school.
An increase in need for migrant workers for the world cup has lead to a worsening of already shocking living conditions in Qatar. Although Qatar law allows a maximum of four beds per room and prohibits bed sharing, Amnesty International saw instances of eight or more people sharing a room and the use of bunk beds to combine space. Even to get by on basic necessities is difficult for migrants on these low wages. Filipino workers that cannot leave Qatar and are owed salaries rely on donations from their embassy to get by, but many cannot even afford the taxi drive to get there.
Migrant-Rights.org explains that “Qatar has an image to maintain…There is no room in the landscape for poverty. It is transferred across oceans to their families, whose every need would then be unmet – education, healthcare, food, a roof over their head, and dreams of betterment.”
A lack of protection for migrants in Qatar is concerning when the Ministry of Development Planning and Statistics estimate that they make up 90% of their workforce. Amnesty International is calling on Fifa and its sponsors to protect Qatar’s workers, but the protection of migrants is a shared responsibility. Earlier this year Qatar announced positive legislation which revoked an employers right to deny exit permits, but for only 95% of their workforce. They are still able to confiscate passports with written permission which is generally requested as a condition of employment. An Amnesty International spokesperson has called for a full abolishment of Qatar’s exit permit to ensure migrants can determine their own futures. States also have a duty to protect their citizens wherever they reside. When they fail to do this, they lose their legitimacy.
It is imperative that all nations move to protect migrants; increased migration is a universal concern from which many states can make progress in. Globalisation has led to an estimated 258 million international migrants, therefore the international community must set the standard for protecting these vulnerable people. A step in the right direction would be to promote ratification of the 1990 International Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Their Families, of which barely any developed nations have signed.
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