At least 400 migrant workers died while preparing for World Cup, Qatari official says

Qatar WCup Soccer
A worker walks past a billboard announcing the upcoming Qatar 2022 FIFA World Cup, in Doha, Qatar, Saturday, Nov. 12, 2022. Final preparations are being made for the soccer World Cup which starts on Nov. 20 when Qatar face Ecuador. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) Hassan Ammar/AP

At least 400 migrant workers died while preparing for World Cup, Qatari official says

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Between 400 and 500 migrant workers died while preparing for the World Cup soccer tournament in Qatar, far outpacing initial estimates from the Qatari government, according to a country official.

The latest figure takes into account how many migrant workers have died in Qatar from any construction work related to the soccer tournament since the country won the bid to host the 2022 World Cup in 2010. The country does not have an official number of deaths, although the latest estimate is far higher than the initial death count from Qatar’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy.

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“I don’t have the exact number. That’s something that’s been discussed,” Hassan al-Thawadi, the secretary-general of the Supreme Committee, told Piers Morgan in an interview that aired Tuesday. “One death is a death too many. Plain and simple.”

Previous reports from the Supreme Committee reported 40 deaths, with three being from workplace incidents and 37 from nonwork-related circumstances, such as heart attacks or other health concerns. However, the death count only took into account deaths that were related to building and refurbishing the country’s stadiums.

The latest numbers come as Qatar has been under tough scrutiny for its lack of protections for migrant workers and allegations of human rights abuses, becoming one of the largest controversies leading up to the tournament. The estimate also comes on the heels of a report from the Guardian that shows a total of more than 6,500 migrant workers have died in Qatar since 2010.

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The Qatari government responded to that figure by defending its healthcare system and a “consistent decline” in the country’s mortality rate over the last decade.

“Although each loss of life is upsetting, the mortality rate among these communities is within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population,” Qatari government officials said in a statement. “Since 2010, there has been a consistent decline in the mortality rate as a result of the health and safety reforms we have introduced. We expect this downward trend to continue in the future.”

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