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Migrant workers building 2022 Fifa infrastructure still exploited: report

Migrants from Nepal, India and the Philippines have been stranded and unpaid for months in Qatar because of the nation’s use of the kafala structure.

This file photo taken in May 2015 shows foreign labourers working on the construction site of the al-Wakrah football stadium, one of Qatar's 2022 World Cup stadiums. Picture: AFP.

CAPE TOWN - An Amnesty International report claims migrant workers building infrastructure for the 2022 Fifa World Cup in Qatar are still suffering exploitation and severe human rights violations despite promised government reforms.

In 2017, the Qatari government agreed to work with the International Labour Organisation to improve working conditions.

Migrants from Nepal, India and the Philippines have been stranded and unpaid for months in Qatar because of the nation’s use of the kafala structure. This system ties workers to a single employer who keeps their passports, according to Amnesty International.

Despite promises from Qatari authorities to change the system, Mustafa Qadri, author of the first Amnesty International report on Qatar in 2016, says the change is sluggish.

“I think another thing that concerns me is that, even when there are positive legal changes, and we have seen those, a lot of the time the devil is in the detail.”

Qadri’s report in 2016 was the catalyst for Fifa setting up a human rights advisory board, but he’s unsure of Fifa’s hunger to address the issue.

“There are a lot of questions that need to be asked about how far can, and does, Fifa want to independently go monitor and see what’s happening on the ground.”

While there are no official numbers of migrant worker deaths in Qatar, the International Trade Union Confederation estimates at least 4,000 workers will die before a ball is kicked.

(Edited by Mihlali Ntsabo)

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