Little did Lavanya Maraffini know that the video call she had with her husband last March before her children went to school would be their last conversation, because by the time evening came and they returned, he was gone forever away.
Today, despite the passage of 8 months since the accident, the bereaved family is still waiting to know the circumstances and causes of the death of the father, who was a worker in the construction sector in Qatar. At a time when a Qatari death certificate stated the cause was “acute heart failure due to natural causes”, his wife says he was under the pressure of long and exhausting working hours as Doha raced to host the World Cup receive. .
And the wife, Lavanya Maraffini, who estimated that her husband earns between 500 and 600 dollars a month, reveals to her on many occasions that “the work was hard … but he continued to work for the future of our children.” according to her statements to the Washington Post.
She added that the construction company he worked for sent them a check for $3,000 to cover late wages and other benefits, but she believes his death could have been avoided as he passed out weeks before his departure. due to low blood pressure. but he immediately returned to work.
“Tears and Guilt”
Human Rights Watch and other human rights organizations confirm that during the 12 years leading up to the organization of the World Cup, employers and employment agencies committed a “set of violations” against migrant workers by “misrepresenting their need for work and the lack of work exploit. opportunities in their countries.”
The organization indicated that in one of the richest countries in the world, “migrant workers lived in poor conditions in overcrowded housing,” adding in a new statement that despite the construction of advanced infrastructure worth billions of dollars, ” most of the migrant workers were low paid, even with the advanced health system, the families of the victims in several countries across Asia and Africa were left without information about the reasons behind the death of their loved ones.
According to the Washington Post, the deaths of the workers left their families with “mourning and guilt”, in addition to a state of “painful uncertainty” about the manner in which they died.
Human rights organizations say that over the years there has been no system and no will to seriously investigate the recorded deaths, with “the real number of victims obscured by official certificates attributing the causes of death to natural circumstances”.
The newspaper added that Qatar rejects the figures issued by human rights organizations, which we refer to recording thousands of deaths, insisting that work in infrastructure, except for stadiums, has nothing to do with the World Cup .
The Qatari government stresses that only three deaths among workers are directly related to Doha’s preparations to host the World Cup.
The paper notes that the uncertainty over the causes of recorded deaths, along with outstanding questions about many similar cases, is “puzzling”, given Qatar’s move to improve its labor practices by granting migrant workers a minimum wage, the possibility to change jobs and set working hours during the hot months and undertake to punish employers who violate these rules.
The Qatar World Cup Organizing Committee says it has improved its labor laws and raised workers’ rights and standards since being awarded the honor of hosting the World Cup.
In this context, the International Trade Union Confederation, which has been the main demand for the improvement of the working conditions of immigrants in Qatar, praised the “transformation” made by the emirate in this area, in statements by the president of the federation to France Press last October.
Qatar has launched a set of measures that human rights organizations say are important and will provide better protections for workers if fully implemented.
In this regard, Human Rights Watch emphasizes that the Qatari authorities have launched important reforms in the field of labor and sponsorship, but many migrant workers have not benefited, either because the reforms came late or were poorly implemented.
Migrant workers and their families are demanding compensation from FIFA and Qatar for the abuses and unexplained deaths the workers suffered while preparing the infrastructure for the World Cup.
Ahead of the tournament’s start on Sunday, Human Rights Watch released a five-minute video in which the workers, their families and soccer fans from the workers’ home countries demand compensation for the victims.
Migrant workers make up the vast majority of Qatar’s population, where many Nepali, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Indian workers work in low-paid jobs, in the construction sector and others, and they have played a central role, according to the Washington Post. in building the infrastructure for the World Cup, not just stadiums, but highways and metro lines and hotels.
Indians represent the largest immigrant group in Qatar; The Indian Ministry of External Affairs said that nearly 2,400 of its citizens died in Qatar between 2014 and 2021, without specifying the cause of the deaths.
In February, the Indian ministry added that Qatar topped the list of countries claimed by Indians for compensation for workers’ deaths, with 81 pending cases.
In this regard, Regimon Kotapan, an Indian journalist who covers immigrant issues, says that the Indian government has been reluctant to provide more detailed information, adding to Human Rights Watch that his country’s authorities are “interfering with the data to maintain diplomatic relations and good maintain friendship” with Qatar.
He added that since the certificates issued by Qatar often indicate that natural causes are behind the deaths, it remains difficult to prove the causes of death of the workers, despite confirmation from the families and colleagues of the victims that “dampness, overtime work, or stress and psychological stress.”
Maraveni, who died in March, was from the southern Indian town of Shivangalappally and had worked with Boom Construction in Qatar since 2007, according to a copy of a letter the company sent to associates after his death and by The Washington Post reviewed. .
According to the same newspaper, “the company did not respond to repeated requests for comment or to a detailed list of questions about Maraffini’s employment history or the circumstances of his death.”
A company employee told a Washington Post reporter who visited the company’s offices in Doha on Thursday that the head of human resources, who wrote the letter, “is not in the office.”
“for our children”
Lavanya (36) says that her late husband used to work 12-hour shifts and sometimes more, noting that the period leading up to the World Cup saw a significant increase in work pressure and in temperatures of over 43 degrees Celsius have seen
For his part, another worker familiar with Maraveni who spoke to the newspaper on condition of anonymity said: “There is a lot of work going on at a very fast pace in Qatar.”
The worker, who works for another company in Qatar, added: “I usually work an eight-hour shift, but now I work 12 hours a day.”
For the Maraffini family, the newspaper indicates that their lives have changed completely. Without a transfer of $350 a month from her husband, Lavanya said, the family now lives on the $80 she earns each month rolling cigarettes.
The three children – one of whom suffers from a congenital deformity – were forced to leave their private school and go to a public school, according to the deceased’s wife. “Can you imagine the life of a widow?” It’s “life seems meaningless without him, and I don’t want to live without him, but I have to… for the sake of our children.”