Rights groups urge action on deaths of Qatar migrants

Rights groups urge action on deaths of Qatar migrants
Sat Feb 22, 2014 15:43:54

India has come under growing pressure over the deaths of over 450 of its citizens over nearly two years in Qatar, the host of the 2022 World Cup, with rights groups branding the casualty figure as "very disturbing."

Amnesty International urged the Indian government on Friday to release more details about the deaths amid mounting criticism over the safety and working conditions of migrant workers in Qatar's booming construction community, AFP reported.

The Indian embassy in Qatar claimed, however, that the number of deaths was "quite normal" given the large size of the Indian community in the gas-rich Gulf state, adding that most were by natural causes.

"Instead of simply saying that such deaths are normal, the Indian government should provide clearer and more transparent information," said Amnesty International India spokesman Nikhil Eapen.

"What we need to know is who these people were - how old they were and what work they were doing - and how they died."

On average about 20 Indian migrant workers died per month, peaking at 27 in August last year. There were 237 fatalities in 2012 and another 218 in 2013 up to December 5, according to the embassy figures.

The embassy did not give any details about the circumstances of the deaths, but the International Trade Union Confederation said the data showed an "exceptionally high mortality rate."

Gateway House, a Mumbai-based foreign policy think-tank, said the deaths were "very disturbing and an issue that the Indian government must be addressing seriously."

Most of the laborers working in Qatar on the new stadiums and vast infrastructure projects ahead of football's biggest tournament in the despotic Persian Gulf state are from South Asia.

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