Nov 29, 2022 - World

Qatar says 400-500 migrant workers died due to World Cup

Migrant workers at Qatar world cup

Migrant workers walk past Khalifa International Stadium in Doha, Qatar on Nov. 19. Photo: Simon Holmes/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Between 400 and 500 migrant workers died as a result of their work for this year's World Cup, a Qatari official involved in the organization of the tournament told British journalist Piers Morgan in an interview that aired Tuesday.

Why it matters: The figure offered by Hassan al-Thawadi — the secretary-general of Qatar's Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy — is significantly higher than any estimate previously offered by Qatar, AP reported.

  • Earlier reports from the Supreme Committee only took into account migrant worker deaths related to building and refurbishing Qatar's new stadiums and put the number of deaths at 40 — three from workplace incidents and 37 from nonwork incidents, such as heart attacks.

What they're saying: "Do you know how many people have died in Qatar, since you won the bid, in the last twelve years, from any construction related to anything to do with the World Cup?" Morgan asked, offering examples of new hotels or bridges.

  • "The estimate is around 400, between 400 and 500," al-Thawadi replied.
  • "I don't have the exact number. That's something that's been discussed."
  • "One death is a death too many. Plain and simple," he added, noting that health and safety standards have been improving.

The big picture: Qatar's human rights abuses and lack of strong protections for migrant workers have been one of the largest controversies overshadowing this year's tournament.

  • A 2021 report from the Guardian estimated that more than 6,500 migrant workers died in Qatar in the decade since the country won its hosting bid in 2010.
  • In a statement responding to the Guardian's report in 2021, the Qatari government didn't dispute the figure but argued that "the mortality rate among these communities is within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population" over nearly a decade.

Go deeper: The World Cup of controversy

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