Bad Honnef – In the 1970s, the population of Qatar was about 150,000 citizens. After independence from the United Kingdom in 1971, the population increased to about 2.7 million, of whom only 300 thousand are Qatari today, meaning that 90% of the population is due to the import of foreign labor. The first of the Arab neighboring countries. Since the 1990s, Qatar has sought workers from South Asia.
Employment agencies arranged jobs for high-interest loans, and millions of migrant workers from India, Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan received so-called “KOla”, “godfathers” (guarantors) who kept their passports, thus generally restricting their departure or freedom of movement. This prevents workers from changing jobs and preventing them from going to the doctor or going to court. On March 20, 2021, under international pressure, Qatar introduced a minimum wage equivalent to $230 per month, but employers or “guarantors” are often reluctant to pay this, often at a discount to repay loans, and often very late. Or not at all, for example in the event of illness. Although the “kafala system” was officially abolished by law in 2015, it is rarely implemented in practice.
350,000 workers from Nepal work alone in Qatar, and their families depend on remittances back home. According to the statistics of the Qatari authorities, more than 15,000 non-Qatari citizens died between 2010 and 2019 without conducting post-mortem examinations.
Amnesty International is calling on FIFA and the State of Qatar to establish a compensation fund of at least €440m and at least $6bn for affected migrant workers.
Photographer Mohamed Badarne has visited Qatar and Nepal several times over the past five years to meet workers and their families.
On Monday, November 21, 2022, just in time for the start of the Qatar World Cup, Mayor Otto Neuhoff opened a photo exhibition entitled “The Forgotten Team” in the foyer of the Bad Honnef City Hall, which depicts the life of an immigrant. The workers who laid the foundation for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar.
He not only photographed the situation in Qatar, but also the relatives of the deceased in their home country. The exhibition, organized by Amnesty International, will be open to the public during the World Cup until December 16th during the official opening times of Bad Honnef City Hall. Submission is free.
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