Nepalese government says Qatar won't let workers return for earthquake funerals

Around 400,000 Nepalese workers are part of the 2022 World Cup construction projects

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The Independent Online

Nepalese workers in Qatar have been refused permission to leave work to attend funerals following the earthquakes in the Himalayas, the Nepalese government has revealed.

Around 400,000 workers on the 2022 World Cup construction projects are from Nepal and the government in Kathmandu has for the first time condemned FIFA, and by extension its commercial partners, for their working conditions.

Tek Bahadur Gurung, Nepal’s labour minister, said: “After the earthquake of 25 April, we requested all companies in Qatar to give their Nepalese workers special leave and pay for their air fare home.

 

“While workers in some sectors of the economy have been given this, those on World Cup construction sites are not being allowed to leave because of the pressure to complete projects on time.

“They have lost relatives and their homes and are enduring very difficult conditions in Qatar. This is adding to their suffering.”

Gurung said Nepal’s government had been attempting, without success, to contact FIFA and its sponsors to ask them to be more robust with Qatar.

“Nothing will change for migrant workers until FIFA and its rich sponsors insist on it. These are the people who are bringing the World Cup to Qatar. But we are a small, poor country and these powerful organisations are not interested in listening to us.”

“We want to work with the Qatari government and bodies like FIFA because our people need the jobs and Nepal needs the money more than ever. Things are very difficult for the Nepalese and other workers in Qatar, but we have to help them and cannot stay silent any longer.”

Last month Qatar’s labour minister, Abdullah bin Saleh al-Khulaifi, visited Kathmandu and declared that Qatar would need more Nepalese workers as it aims to complete construction on projects in time for 2022.

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