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More than 450 Indian migrants dead in Qatar in 2012-13

Migrants escorted to the shore by life guards/FILE

Migrants escorted to the shore by life guards/FILE

NEW DELHI, Feb 17 – More than 450 Indian migrants working in Qatar have died in the last two years, data shows as the Gulf state is under pressure over its rights record ahead of the 2022 World Cup.

In response to a Right to Information request filed by AFP, the Indian embassy in Qatar gave figures detailing the number of deaths in 2012 and the first 11 months of 2013.

On average about 20 migrants 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.

The embassy did not give details about the circumstances of the deaths or where they occurred.

It also declined to hand over any correspondence between the embassy and the Indian government regarding the treatment of its nationals.

Qatar’s human rights record is under scrutiny like never before as it cranks up building work ahead of the 2022 World Cup, most of which will be done by migrant labour from South Asia.

Amnesty International said in November that workers were being treated like “animals,” and urged football’s world governing body FIFA to press Qatar to improve conditions for foreign labourers.

FIFA executive committee member Theo Zwanziger said last Thursday that the World Cup could help improve the country’s “appalling” human rights record by inviting closer scrutiny.

The Guardian reported at the weekend that 400 Nepalese migrants had died on building sites in Qatar as it prepares for football’s biggest tournament, which it won the right to host in 2010.

It did not specify the period for the deaths, but it said human rights organisation Pravasi Nepali Co-ordination Committee would give more details this week.

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On February 11, the Gulf state issued new guidelines aimed at protecting expatriate workers, suggesting they should be paid properly and promptly and housed adequately.

The embassy in Qatar says that the exact number of Indians in Qatar is unknown, but it was estimated at close to 500,000 at the end of 2012, about 26 percent of Qatar’s total population.

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