The Dutch government has postponed a trade mission to Qatar this month, citing concern over the living conditions of migrant workers helping the Gulf state to prepare for next year’s football World Cup.
Britain’s Guardian newspaper last week reported that its calculations showed that at least 6,500 migrant workers had died in Qatar since it won the right to stage the 2022 World Cup 10 years ago.
Many of them worked on World Cup projects, a labour rights advocacy group told the paper.
“This report has led to a broad discussion in Dutch society and in parliament,” Dutch foreign ministry spokesman Jeroen van Dommelen said.
“We have talked before with Qatar about the poor conditions for these workers, but these numbers give the discussion a new meaning. We want to hear Qatar’s response before we can think of a new date for the mission.”
In response to the Guardian report, Qatar said the reported deaths were “within the expected range for the size and demographics of the population” of the workers concerned.
The mortality rate had consistently declined since 2010 due to health and safety reforms, the government said.
The trade mission, which was to be held as a video conference due to coronavirus related travel restrictions, had been scheduled for March 22 to April 1.
Qatar had not responded yet to the Dutch government’s decision, Van Dommelen said.
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