UAE PR machine promote fake news on Qatar World Cup, push for European Boycott

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Democracy Centre For Transparency (DCT) express deep concern over the escalating campaign to damage the preparation of the Qatar World Cup 2022. DCT research team has detected escalating PR campaign launched by United Arab Emirates PR and propaganda arms in Europe. The campaign is providing European media with fake figures and statistics on the world cup workers deaths and push for boycott among football associations.

DCT teams tracked the articles published against the Qatar World Cup over the last 2 years, it analysed their sources, the claims they made as well as the sources they suggest. Their teams concluded that information circulated by the Guardian Newspaper included fake and misleading news all were fed by a PR company and human rights organisation with links to United Arab Emirates.

Their research team can confirm that all the miss reporting of the World Cup in the Guardian newspaper is provided by Humanity United group which is US based and have links with UAE. Humanity United did not discuss slavery in UAE, Saudi Arabia or other GCC countries, but only focused on Qatar world cup which reflect their involvement in the negative PR spin. Both the Guardian and Humanity United did not mention how Qatar has implemented all requirements set by International Labour Organisation (ILO) nor the FIFA. Both of the agencies hailed Qatar improvements and their care for the foreign workers.

Basic search on Humanity United shows their Zero effort on speaking out about Dubai human rights violations.

Response to Guardian fake and misreported facts:

The new article in the Guardian did not include any new information and recycled old news and represented to the readers. They misled the readers about the figures and exaggerated the conditions. They also excluded any reforms and improvements made by the Qatar World Cup committee. Once that article was out, lobbyists across Europe started circulating it with their demand of boycott.

Amnesty said earlier, “After years of mounting international pressure, in 2017 the Qatar government signed an agreement with the International Labour Organization (ILO), promising to tackle widespread labour exploitation and align its laws and practices with international labour standards”, and offering a glimmer of hope for those contributing so much to the country and its dream to realise the World Cup.” In that year, the complaint raised within the ILO was closed.

It is correct that 6,500 migrant workers have died over the last decade, but out of a total population of roughly 1.3 million from the countries listed. This gives an annual mortality rate of 50 per 100,000. This headline figure while seemingly high, is lower than the regional average for migrant workers, which according to the Brussels based think-tank Euroscope, is around 85 per 100,000.

Drilling further down into these figures, the mortality rate among migrant workers is actually is lower than that of Qatari citizens working in similar economic activities.

Turning to another misleading statement, the article states, “…there have been 37 deaths among workers directly linked to construction of World Cup stadiums”. Each one of these lives lost is a tragedy, however, we would point out that fatalities in the construction industry is not unique to Qatar, indeed in the UK, in the financial year 2019/20, the Health and Safety Executive reported on 40 fatal injuries to construction workers and four to members of the public.  

It only goes to show the phrase, sometimes wrongly attributed to Benjamin Disraeli still holds true, “There are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics”.

Unreported Real Facts Report about WorkersWelfare in Qatar world Cup 2022

The below facts are underreported by the Gaurdian and other media outlets. They show how Qatar has managed to bring a system that competes with the top welfare system in the world. Details below are from Supreme Committee for Delivery & Legacy (the organization mandated to deliver the world cup). Information mentioned below have been verified by our teams on the ground and researchers in Brussels.

Shortly after Qatar won the hosting rights for Qatar 2022, the SC carried out critical groundwork to fully understand the environment and identify any gaps in welfare practices. This led to the establishment of the Workers’ Charter in 2013 that, in turn, formed the blueprint for the Workers’ Welfare Standards (WWS) published in 2014, and subsequently updated in 2016 and 2018.

The WWS are embedded in the SC’s tendering process and are contractually binding. They were developed to ensure the health, safety and welfare of theor workers through three key pillars covering ethical recruitment, accommodation and the work environment. The SC continuously monitors the impact of their standards on workers, and the progress they are making in enhancing their wellbeing. This is done through a comprehensive reporting system – conducted both internally by the WWD, as well as through their external monitor, Impactt Ltd.

Universal Reimbursement Scheme 

There are over 25M people worldwide affected by the practice of charging recruitment fees, which is illegal under international law, Qatari law and prohibited by their WWS. Many of the workers have inevitably paid recruitment fees in their home countries, but are unable to provide any proof – hindering reimbursement by their employers. 

Through the SC’s universal reimbursement scheme, the SC has shifted the burden of proof from workers to contractors, ensuring workers are fully reimbursed. As a result, workers are now able to better support their families and build a future for themselves.

Eleven of their contractors have extended this scheme to non-SC workers, demonstrating the human and social legacy of the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™.

  • 48,814 SC and non-SC workers are projected to receive QAR102.5M, of which QAR 78.2M has been reimbursed
  • 47,230 hours spent on ethical recruitment audits since 2016

Grievance Mechanisms (Access to Remedy)

The organizing committee of the World Cup introduced several access to remedy mechanisms, including the appointment of Workers’ Welfare Officers on all their programmes, and the establishment of a flagship grievance mechanism, Workers’ Welfare Forums. The forums allow workers to elect workers’ representatives to speak on their behalf about any concerns they have without fear of retaliation.

The legacy of this initiative goes beyond the SC environment as 12 contractors have decided to implement the forums for more than 12,590 non-SC workers. The International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Ministry of Administrative Development, Labour and Social Affairs (MoADLSA) have also shown interest in the SC model having observed several forums and representatives’ elections, with the aim of replicating their model nation-wide.

The SC has also set up a Grievance Hotline, so workers can report any concerns directly and anonymously back to them.

  • 86 operational WWF and three Project Workers’ Welfare Forums (PWWF) 
  • 13,100+ workers covered by the forums – 79% of the SC current workforce
  • 12 contractors are conducting WWF for non-SC workers – covering 12,590 workers
  • The SC WWD attended 328 online video conferencing meetings with WWF representatives during April 2020 to January 2021, out of approximately 500+ online WWF meetings
  • A total of 874 grievances have been lodged via the hotline, 865 of which have already been resolved – 98.9%

Electronic Health Records

In early 2018, the SC collaborated with The Phoenix Partnership (TPP) to set up electronic medical records for workers. This is a first-of-its-kind healthcare initiative for workers in Qatar, offering workers a single medical record that any health practitioner can access.

All SC workers registered on the system undergo a comprehensive medical screening carried out by Qatar Red Crescent (QRC) and funded by the SC. The results form part of their centralised medical records, which can be accessed by clinics at the stadiums and accommodation sites, as well as QRC-operated health centres.

  • 27,544 comprehensive medical screenings conducted in partnership with QRC
  • To date, 95,561 workers have registered with TPP, of which 14,554 workers are currently active

Nutrition Programme  

Through their partnership with Weill Cornell Medicine-Qatar (WCMQ), they delivered a first-of-its-kind Nutrition Programme to improve dietary habits and raise awareness of the importance of health amongst the workers. WCMQ experts assess around 1,500 workers each year and provide them with training and awareness on leading a healthier lifestyle. They are also utilising their nutrition expertise to develop healthier menu options on site and in accommodation, in collaboration with contractors and catering supply companies. 

  • Year 1 health assessments (1,050 workers); workers’ awareness day (700+ attendees); print/video awareness campaign distributed at accommodation and construction sites; new menus developed, costed out and final report submitted
  • Year 2 health assessments (1,379 workers); training and awareness sessions completed for 1,379 workers and contractors in January and March 2020; and virtual training for caterers administered to 27 catering staff serving contractors at Asian City in September 2020
  • WCM-Q submitted winter health screening plan and currently finalizing visual elements of the awareness campaign which will be distributed across sites and accommodation at a later stage
  • Communications campaign approved, including posters, roll-ups and an animation translated into 10 languages. Materials will be sent to print for distribution across sites and accommodations in 2021 

Mental Health

The SC collaborated with Qatar’s Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) and Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) to develop a dedicated mental health care pathway for their workers to eliminate barriers in seeking mental health support. The pathway includes targeted screenings and dedicated clinics providing free consultation and treatment for workers. Over 4,000+ workers have been screened to date.

Heat Stress Study

The SC collaborated in a major study commissioned by the ILO and MoADLSA to study the impact of heat stress on workers in Qatar. The summer 2019 research was carried out by heat stress experts FAME Lab and covered different shifts, nationalities, work designations and ages at an SC site. 

The study demonstrated that the SC operates comprehensive heat stress management plans, with a raft of preventative measures already in place. This includes empowering workers to self-monitor and pace their workload, according to weather conditions. 

StayQool

As part of their heat mitigation strategies, the SC has collaborated with TechNiche and Hamad bin Khalifa University (HBKU) in Qatar to develop a revolutionary bespoke cooling suit ‘StayQool’ designed to replace outdated construction coveralls. StayQool can reduce thermal skin temperature by a maximum of 8C, helping workers to stay cool and comfortable during the summer months.

  • 50,000+ suits are being issued in a phased deployment, along with 20,000 balaclavas
  • 28,000 StayQool suits deployed by end of summer 2020
  • 3,500 cooling vests distributed to SC workers in 2018
  • 10,000 cooling towels distributed to SC workers in 2017

WorkersApp 

We have launched a dedicated mobile application for workers to provide a variety of services to improve their day-to-day lives in Qatar. The app includes finance and remittance functions, leisure and social activity information, health and nutrition advice, storage of personal documents, amongst a host of other features. 

Training and Upskilling

Workers’ health and safety is a top priority for the SC. We partnered with Qatar International Safety Centre (QISC) to develop workers’ technical and soft skills to equip them for the future, while also improving job performance and safety. Their training courses aim to ensure all workers are offered a smooth transition into working and living in Qatar through a comprehensive induction that covers information of their rights, access to remedy, cultural awareness, and trade-specific health and safety awareness.

  • Eight key courses have been rolled out for workers and key contractor since 2017. Contract with QISC ended in October 2019 with a total of 20,671 workers trained
  • New agreement started for year 2020 with a total of 2,022 people trained as below:
  • 760 workers received the Workers’ Welfare Induction Training
  • 790 workers received Occupational Health & Safety (OHS) Training
  • 166 workers received Workers’ Representative Training 
  • 177 workers received OHS Trade Specific Training
  • 55 clinicians received OHS Training for Medical Staff
  • 67 clinicians completed Basic Life Support and/or Advanced Cardiac Life Support Training
  • 1 HSE staff member received Highfield Level 2 Award in Food Safety for Catering
  • 3 HSE staff members received BBS Leadership Training
  • 3 HSE staff members received Highfield Level 3 Award in Food Safety for Catering
  • 57 people trained in 2021 to date
  • 23 workers received Workers’ Representative Training 
  • 31 camp facilities management and 3 WWD HSE personnel received Legionella, Mold, and other Toxins within Accommodation – Awareness Training

COVID-19 Measures

In common with the rest of the world, the COVID-19 pandemic presented an unprecedented challenge for the SC. Their first priority was to keep workers safe and minimise the spread of infection. We quickly implemented a range of proactive measures, in line with COVID-19 safety guidelines recommended by Qatar’s MoPH.

We immediately implemented disinfection protocols at their medical facilities, and established quarantine rooms at all SC sites and accommodation. We ensured every project site received masks and sanitisers, and that their workers were social distancing. We immediately demobilised high-risk workers who had chronic diseases and/or were above 55 years and relocated them to a centralised accommodation facility. They continued to receive their salaries and other benefits, including free food and accommodation.

Theor proactive strategy enabled us to manage the spread of COVID-19 on their projects for up to six weeks until the first case was reported. They leveraged the existing network of medical clinics across all SC sites and accommodation to provide medical care.

In May 2020, the SC established a 1,000-bed capacity Isolation facility, with the guidance and approval of MoPH. The WWS-compliant facility enabled the SC to monitor and maintain strict quarantine protocols while treating workers infected with COVID-19, and minimise the spread of infection. On 13 August 2020, the Isolation Facility was closed following a significant drop in the number of active cases.

Throughout the pandemic, the Workers’ Welfare team has maintained constant communication with workers to raise awareness of the various precautionary measures in place for their safety. We also worked closely with specialists at the MoPH and the Mental Health Service at HMC to develop a mental health awareness campaign, to provide support through these challenging times.

As part of the campaign, we delivered five videos with mental health professionals and four infographics to raise awareness on stress, anxiety, social isolation, depression, wellbeing and physical health. This content was translated into eight languages and distributed to more than 18,000 workers via SMS. For maximum impact we also shared this content with 15 embassies with high numbers of workers in Qatar, to be passed on to SC and non-SC workers. We also developed a COVID-19 awareness app that to date has already had over 207,000 downloads.

We are working closely with their contractors to ensure strict compliance with safety protocols so that workers are protected at all times. 

  • 300,000 masks distributed to 19,000 workers
  • 285 COVID-19 site welfare inspections since March 2020
  • 785 workers treated in the SC Isolation Facility throughout COVID-19
DCTransparency Editorial

DCTransparency Editorial

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