Climate change puts World Cup workers at risk in Qatar

This story has been supported by Center Pulitzer.

When the United Nations’ International Organization for Migration guess Given that up to a billion people will be displaced by climate change in the next 30 years, it’s easy to imagine entire communities uprooted by catastrophic storms or swept away by historic floods caused by climate change. global warming, as we have seen in WE and Pakistan this early year. But the migration caused by climate change is similar to the village of Nagrain in southern Nepal, where more and more people unpredictable monsoon led to droughts, floods and heat waves that made it nearly impossible to farm the land to feed a family. Local elders estimate that more than half of the town’s men have left to work abroad, with the majority going to Qatar and the Gulf countries in search of wages to send home to their families. About 3.5 million Nepalis (14% of the total population) are currently working abroad, up from 220,000 in 2008. And while climate doesn’t drive migration as a whole, it is playing an increasingly important role. Surya Narayan Sah, a social worker from Nagrain, said: “Climate change is encouraging people to come to the Gulf for work. “Here we depend on the rain for farming, and when it’s erratic, there’s no food, they have to buy and the only way to make money is to go abroad.”

Labor migration can be an adaptation solution to climate change, but only if it is done in the right way. Most of the time it is not. Out of desperation, these climate migrant workers are vulnerable to exploitation. In the Gulf, where organized labor unions are illegal, they are incapable of defending their rights and demanding better working conditions. For this short film produced by TIME and Context and supported by the Pulitzer Center, I went down the path of almost half a million Over the past decade, Nepalese migrant workers have traveled to Middle Eastern countries like Qatar, where they have helped build stadiums, hotels, transportation systems and entertainment venues to host fans. and players participating in the upcoming World Cup men’s soccer championship. starting November 20.

Qatar has spent more than $200 billion preparing for the World Cup, a construction expenditure that has drawn international attention for the country’s poor labor rights record. Even before FIFA, the international soccer association that runs the World Cup, invited Qatar to host the tournament in 2010, the country was plagued by allegations of human rights abuses against its migrant workforce. , which accounts for 85% of the country’s population and includes a permanent lower class. pardon, Human Rights Watch, labor organizationand other groups All documents document extortionate recruitment fees, unpaid wages, poor living conditions, and exploitative contracts that lead to forced labor.

Read more: Thousands of migrant workers die in the harsh heat of Qatar World Cup forced to calculate

The world’s attention is forced to calculate. In 2017, Qatar began dismantling its “kafala” worker sponsorship system, in which migrants are bound to their employers and unable to change jobs, among other reforms. One new report The International Labor Organization acknowledged that over the past four years, Qatar has made important reforms to improve “living and working conditions for hundreds of thousands of workers”, but “more needs to be done.” to adopt and fully implement labor reforms. And despite the Qatari government’s efforts to distinguish government-supervised world cup construction projects from privately run construction sites that don’t follow official labor standards, one new survey of 60 migrant workers working on FIFA-related projects of the human rights organization level revealed that discrimination, illegal recruitment practices and in some cases no pay still take place at World Cup stadium construction sites. The prevalence of these allegations of abuse “at construction sites closely regulated by Qatar, FIFA and their partners,” the organization notes, “suggests that reforms implemented over the past five years has served as a cover for powerful businesses that seek to exploit migrant workers with impunity.”

Read more: The environmental crisis is forcing millions of people into cities. Can countries turn climate migrants into assets?

Climate change may be boosting labor migration from countries like Nepal, but it’s also making that work more dangerous, especially in the Gulf, where temperatures are rising twice as fast rest of the planet. That greatly increases the risk for outdoor workers. Qatar includes strict heat protection measures in its labor reform kit and the country is currently considered to have one of the most progressive heat protection policies in the world, albeit at a very low level ( only some US states and some countries have any heat protection policies). Even then, policies work only when enforced, and as the failures of other labor reforms have demonstrated, enforcement in Qatar can be patchy.

Furthermore, those policies are only adjusted for current conditions. The climate in the Middle East is expected to warm by 9°F (5°C) by the end of the century, according to one forecast. June 2022 học published in Comments on Geophysics. Keeping outdoor workers safe in those conditions will require a complete review of construction practices. Some technology solutions such as workwear keep workers cool, already exist. Others are at work, such as personal screen can monitor a worker’s heart rate, hydration levels, and core body temperature to prevent heat stress before it happens. But those technologies are very expensive. They will only save lives if those lives are deemed worth saving.

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