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Hundreds of migrant workers die each and every year in the Gulf state that will host the 2022 World Cup, according to the Guardian.
Rupchandra Rumba was working as a scaffolder at the Education City World stadium in Doha, Qatar, when he died in June. The young man was 24 and no formal investigation on his work-related death was ever initiated, like Rumba's case hundreds of other deaths have gone under-reported, according to a report published by the Guardian Monday.
After he passed away, his employer called his wife, Nirmala Pakrin, telling her that everything had been tried to save Rumba, “but he didn’t survive,” adding that they “took him to hospital for autopsy.” Yet no autopsy was performed Pakrin said.
“Acute cardiorespiratory failure due to natural cause,” said the death certificate she received.
Hundreds of migrant workers die every year in the Gulf state that will host the 2022 World Cup. The majority of the victims are young men who die while sleeping as the phenomenon has been called “sudden death syndrome.”
Qatari authorities say the deaths are due to heart attacks or natural diseases.
Hundreds of thousands of workers are being exposed to fatal levels of heat stress, toiling in temperatures up to 45C for up to 10 hours a day, according to another report published last week by the Guardian.
Doctors and cardiologists have been alerting to the lethal connection between these young men’s deaths and heat stress, as high temperatures put huge pressure on the cardiovascular system. Professor of public health at Imperial College London, Kausik Ray, said that “people aged 20 to 50, in general, don’t die in their sleep suddenly.”
“You could not say they died from heart failure or respiratory failure without a postmortem unless you had information about their prior [medical] history,” the professor added.
Nearly half the athletes withdraw from Qatar's women's marathon because of the extreme heat and humidity, but migrant workers laboring outside face those extremes all the time with insufficient accommodation. Qatar still isn't transparent about deaths. https://t.co/pkq7nOeGEPpic.twitter.com/yvQDtrZ7EI
For the greatest majority of these cases, Qatari authorities refuse to carry on autopsies on the bodies of the migrant workers, simply attributing their deaths to natural causes. The country’s law proscribes theses kind of examinations except in cases of a potential crime or illness before death.
Yet, a report from the regime’s lawyers, international law firm DLA Piper, already recommended in 2014 the creation of a research committee to investigate the deaths of the migrant workers and to extend the law to allow for autopsies in all cases of unexpected deaths. So far, no action has been taken even though the majority of the workers are in the country at the Government’s invitation.
Qatar’s resistance to perform autopsies has left countless families in South Asia without clear responses regarding what happened to their relatives.
A Qatari official said that according to the law, families of the deceased must authorize an autopsy before it is done.
“In most cases related to guest workers, families refuse an autopsy due to a desire to have the body returned as quickly as possible for the completion of religious burial or cremation rites. This creates a difficulty in respect of investigating the cause of death in some cases,” the official said.
However, the families of three Nepali workers who died in Qatar in the past 18 months, including Pakrin told the Guardian that they have never been asked whether they wanted an autopsy.
The director of non-profit organization fair/Square Projects Nick McGeehan that conducts research migrant workers in the Gulf states said the findings expose a lack of concern for workers’ welfare.
“The law on autopsies is further evidence of the different value that’s attached to the lives of low-paid migrant workers. If hundreds of Gulf nationals or westerners were dying every year in unexplained circumstances, there would be uproar and money would be thrown at this issue,” he added.