Qatar says worker deaths for FIFA World Cup 'between 400 and 500'

News Network
November 29, 2022

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Doha, Nov 29: A top Qatari official involved in the country's World Cup organization has put the number of worker deaths for the tournament “between 400 and 500” for the first time, a drastically higher number than any other previously offered by Doha.

The comment by Hassan al-Thawadi, the secretary-general of Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy, appeared to come off the cuff during an interview with British journalist Piers Morgan.

It also threatened to reinvigorate criticism by human rights groups over the toll of hosting the Middle East's first World Cup for the migrant labor that built over $200 billion worth of stadiums, metro lines and new infrastructure needed for the tournament.

In the interview, portions of which Morgan posted online, the British journalist asks al-Thawadi: "What is the honest, realistic total do you think of migrant workers who died from – as a result of work they're doing for the World Cup in totality?”

“The estimate is around 400, between 400 and 500," al-Thawadi responds.

"I don't have the exact number. That's something that's been discussed.”

But that figure hasn't been discussed publicly by Qatari officials previously. Reports from the Supreme Committee dating from 2014 through the end of 2021 only include the number of deaths of workers involved in building and refurbishing the stadiums now hosting the World Cup.

Those released figures put the total number of deaths at 40. They include 37 from what the Qataris describe as nonwork incidents such as heart attacks and three from workplace incidents. One report also separately lists a worker death from the coronavirus amid the pandemic.

Al-Thawadi pointed to those figures when discussing work just on stadiums in the interview, right before offering the “between 400 to 500” death toll for all the infrastructure for the tournament.

In a later statement, the Supreme Committee said al-Thawadi was referring to “national statistics covering the period of 2014-2020 for all work-related fatalities (414) nationwide in Qatar, covering all sectors and nationalities.”

Since FIFA awarded the tournament to Qatar in 2010, the country has taken some steps to overhaul the country's employment practices. That includes eliminating its so-called kafala employment system, which tied workers to their employers, who had say over whether they could leave their jobs or even the country.

Qatar also has adopted a minimum monthly wage of 1,000 Qatari riyals ($275) for workers and required food and housing allowances for employees not receiving those benefits directly from their employers. It also has updated its worker safety rules to prevent deaths.

“One death is a death too many. Plain and simple,” al-Thawadi adds in the interview.

Activists have called on Doha to do more, particularly when it comes to ensuring workers receive their salaries on time and are protected from abusive employers.

Al-Thawadi's comment also renews questions on the veracity of both government and private business reporting on worker injuries and deaths across the Gulf Arab states, whose skyscrapers have been built by laborers from South Asia nations like India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka.

“This is just the latest example of Qatar's inexcusable lack of transparency on the issues of workers' deaths," said Nicholas McGeehan of Fairsquare, a London-based group which advocates for migrant workers in the Middle East.

“We need proper data and thorough investigations, not vague figures announced through media interviews.

"FIFA and Qatar still have a lot of questions to answer, not least where, when, and how did these men die and did their families receive compensation.”

Mustafa Qadri, the executive director of Equidem Research, a labor consultancy that has published reports on the toll of the construction on migrant laborers, also said he was surprised by al-Thawadi's remark.

“For him now to come and say there is hundreds, it's shocking,” he told media. “They have no idea what's going on.”

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News Network
January 24,2023

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New Delhi, Jan 24: A 5.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal Tuesday afternoon with tremors also being felt in parts of Delhi, national capital region and Jaipur.

The quake struck at 2:28 pm with the epicentre in Nepal at a place 148 km east of Pithoragarh in Uttarakhand, the National Centre for Seismology said.

"It was scary as the tremors hit," said Shantanu, who resides in a high-rise tower in Noida.

Amit Pandey, a Delhi resident, said, "I was on the fifth floor of one of the blocks at the Civic Centre. I felt a growling noise beneath my feet and a mild shake, when the tremor passed through perhaps."

Many others in the towering Civic Centre, the headqauters of the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, also felt the tremors which hit when the House proceedings were underway.

Tremors were felt in parts of Rajasthan's capital city of Jaipur as well. There was no immediate report of loss of life or property from there. 

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News Network
January 17,2023

Mangaluru, Jan 17: In a gruesome incident, a young girl was stabbed to death at her residence at Kampa near Mundoor in Puttur taluk of Dakshina Kannada. 

The deceased has been identified as Jayashree (23), daughter of Guruvappa and Devaki couple.

It is learnt that she was stabbed by a man when she was working in kitchen. She was rushed to a hospital immediately by her parents. However, she breathed her last half way through. 

Puttur rural police visited the spot. The mortal remains have been kept at government hospital for post mortem. 

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News Network
January 17,2023

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New Delhi, Jan 17: Prime Minister Narendra Modi had a 15-minute meeting with Karnataka's former Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa on Monday on the sidelines of the BJP national executive.

Karnataka is one of the states going to polls this year. Poll strategy for these nine states was the key agenda of the ongoing two-day executive meet in New Delhi, which is being attended by PM Modi and the key leaders and ministers of the party.

Since being removed from the top post in Karnataka - the only southern state where the BJP has made a breakthrough - Mr Yediyurappa, who has a large base of Lingayat supporters, has been keeping a low profile. But with the polls approaching, the BJP's original strongman in the south has been elevated to the parliamentary board - the party's highest decision-making body.

The meeting with PM Modi has raised speculation about a turn in fortune for the four-time Chief Minister of Karnataka.

Mr Yediyurappa's successor, Basavaraj Bommai, has been in news more for the wrong reasons than right.

Mr Bommai's tenure in the top post had looked shaky last year as the opposition heaped corruption allegations against him and started the PayCM campaign. But the party had maintained that there will be no change and the state will go to polls under his leadership.

Amit Shah, the BJP's chief strategist, has handed the Karnataka unit a "Mission 136" - winning 136 of the state's 224 seats. But it could be an uphill task in the backdrop of the Congress challenge in Karnataka, one of the few states where the party has ground-level support.

The BJP came to power in the southern state for a third time in Karnataka as the alliance government of the Congress and HD Kumaraswamy's Janata Dal Secular collapsed following an exodus by its MLAs. The ruling alliance had accused the BJP of running an Operation Lotus - - toppling an opposition government by poaching on its MLAs.

Mr Bommai and the party's state unit president Nalin Kumar Kateel also met the state general secretary in-charge Arun Singh. 

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