Modern slavery on the rise, Qatar chastised ahead of FIFA: UN
The exploitation of migrant workers and children globally has increased drastically according to an ILO report.
According to the UN's International Labour Organization (ILO) on Monday upon releasing its modern slavery report, the number of individuals forced to work or in a marriage against their will has skyrocketed in recent years to around 50 million on any given day.
The agency attributed crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, armed conflicts, and climate change as driving forces that have led to unexpected disruption to education and an increase in unemployment while escalating extreme poverty and forced migration.
As opposed to the last statistics for the year 2016, the number of people in forced marriage accounted for 22 million and modern slavery has risen by around 9.3 million, while forced labor accounted for 27.6 million of those in modern slavery in 2021, more than 3.3 million of whom are children, with the ILO deducing that more than half of all forced labor took place in either upper-middle income or high-income countries, with migrant workers more than three times as likely to be affected.
The report mentioned Qatar, which has for long faced widespread accusations of labor rights violations relating to migrants working there in the run-up to the FIFA soccer World Cup, due to start in November.
Since the ILO opened an office in Doha in 2018, it is claimed that "significant progress" has been witnessed regarding the living and working conditions for migrant workers whom the country heavily depends on in various fields, even as problems remained with implementing new labor rules, the report stated.
Nasser Al Khater, Qatar 2022 Chief Executive, claimed on Thursday that due to the country's hosting of the World Cup, it faced a lot of "unfair" criticism that was not fact-based.
The focus on Qatar's human rights issue returned when Amnesty International on Thursday demanded that FIFA set up a $440 million fund for abused foreign laborers. Since it was granted holding the World Cup in 2010, Qatar has spent some $300 billion on infrastructure around the World Cup.
Since 2016, Qatar has allegedly abolished much of the Kafala system, which frames foreign workers into restrictions that prohibit them from changing jobs or leaving the country without the approval of the employer, who is typically permitted to confiscate employees' passports. In addition, a minimum wage and working time limits in extreme weather conditions were also introduced into labor force laws, but the head of the ILO, Max Tunon, says that not all rules are being applied.