“My brother was still so young. He went away to earn money to give us a better life,” DW was told by the elder sister of Sujan Mia, a Bangladeshi migrant worker who died in suspicious circumstances in Qatar in 2020. “[He] was my closest companion. Now I’ll never see him again,” she added.
A family left with heartbreak, unanswered questions and unsurmountable debt
Sujan worked in Qatar for three years. His family says he often complained about not receiving the agreed wages, having to wait for months for payment, and gruelling shifts in intense heat.
His death certificate says he died of “acute heart failure due to natural causes,” but as a young and fit man, his family had questions. They searched for the company named in his documentation but drew a blank.
To send Sujan abroad, the family had to take out a loan and borrow money from relatives. Without his salary, they are now in even more debt than before and are worried about how they will ever repay what they owe.
Systemic exploitation in Qatar
Sujan’s experience is not an isolated case. More than 2 million migrant workers live in Qatar, and many face extremely challenging conditions.
Recruited by local agencies in their home countries, workers are often deceived with promises of high wages and good living conditions. However, the reality is usually very different, as Sujan found out first-hand.
Holding companies accountable for malpractice is also extremely difficult, as Sujan’s family know all too well. Companies hide behind a chain of subcontractors, making it hard to access justice and answers.
Call for justice and protections
The government has initiated reform, but human rights groups and activists are calling for stronger enforcement of the new legislative framework, for example, through the deployment of more labor inspectors and the establishment of stricter penalties for non-compliance.
Freedom United and many other organizations and campaigners are also calling for Qatar and FIFA to set up a remedy fund for migrant workers and their families. Such compensation would be life-changing for Sujan’s family.
“I’m calling on the government in Qatar to pay foreign workers what they’re entitled to and help those families who have lost a loved one in Qatar so they can carry on living,” Sujan’s brother told DW.
Join us in building pressure. Write to your country’s football association and ask them to support the call for the remedy fund and greater protection for migrant workers involved in future World Cups.