Reports emerge of Qatar’s “modern-day slaves” ahead of UN Meeting on International Migration and Developemnt

Global Health in the Middle East

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Photograph: Yasser Al-Zayyat/AFP/Getty Images

News emerged last week of Nepalese workers subjected to forced labour in preparation for Qatar’s infrastructural transformation ahead of the 2022 World Cup. The revelations were met by  a slew of criticism and appalled responses from FIFA, the Qatari authorities, and the International Labour Organization. Given the continual reports of labour abuses emerging from the Gulf, and the sheer scope of the building required to host the event, these human rights violations do not come as surprise to anyone paying cursory attention to the region.

These abuses have been attributed to the system of “kafala” that confers control of workers’ visas and legal status to their employers. This sponsorship system (which should be abolished) accompanies a complex web of recruitment brokers and labour contractors spanning Asia and the Gulf that create situations in which individuals’ mobility is restricted, their salaries and passports confiscated, while they…

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