As Qatar Readies for the 2022 World Cup, Migrant Workers Continue to Die

As Qatar Readies for the 2022 World Cup, Migrant Workers Continue to Die
Relatives and villagers gather around the coffin of Balkisun Mandal Khatwe, a Nepalese migrant worker who died while working on a Qatari construction project, Belhi, Nepal, Nov. 23, 2016 (AP photo by Niranjan Shrestha).

DOHA, Qatar—More than a year later, the workers living in Building 14 of Labour City, a migrant workers’ camp in Doha, remember the gasps and screams that woke them one night in May 2018. As lights flicked on, they heard shouting in the halls. Bhupendra Magar, a 35-year-old plumber from Nepal, was struggling to breathe.

Magar’s roommates tried to revive him and called for help. Soon, an ambulance arrived, and medics rushed him across the city to Qatar’s largest hospital, but he didn’t survive the night.

Magar had been in Doha for 16 months working on the Al Wakrah stadium, one of eight being built for the World Cup soccer tournament that Qatar will host in 2022. According to the Qatari medical authorities, he died from “acute respiratory failure,” ostensibly a natural cause of death. But something about Magar’s death didn’t seem natural to the other workers who knew him. A photo that his friends passed around on WhatsApp after he died showed a slender man who looked to be in the prime of his life. He hadn’t been complaining of any health problems, his friends said.

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