Nepal quake: Qatar World Cup workers ‘not allowed home to bury dead’

Minister says the Gulf state is refusing to allow Nepalese workers to return home following earthquakes that killed more than 8,000

PHOTO: Two massive earthquakes have hit Nepal in the last month. Credit: Shutterstock

Nepalese construction workers building World Cup stadiums in Qatar have reportedly been denied compassionate leave to attend funerals or visit relatives following the earthquakes that have devastated the Himalayan country.

More than 8,000 people have been killed in the two massive earthquakes that have hit the country in the last month. Officials from the Nepalese government have claimed companies in Qatar have been denying workers permission to return home to tend to their families and attend funerals.

“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,” said Tek Bahadur Gurung, Nepal’s Labour Minister, in a report by The Guardian.

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

For the first time, the Nepalese government has also criticised football’s governing body, FIFA, and its commercial partners. It has said that more pressure must be brought on Qatar to improve conditions for the 1.5 million migrants employed in the Gulf state, as part of the World Cup construction plans.

It is estimated that there are about 400,000 Nepalese workers on the World Cup projects, with the bulk coming from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

Gurung said that Nepal’s government had been attempting, without success, to contact FIFA and the 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.”

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