This story has been supported by Pulitzer Center.
When the United Nations International Organization for Migration Expect With up to a billion people going to be displaced by climate change over the next 30 years, it’s easy to imagine entire communities uprooted by catastrophic hurricanes or swept away by epic floods made more likely by global warming, as we saw in we And the Pakistan earlier this year. But the migration caused by climate change is likely to look like the southern Nepalese village of Nagrain, whose population is growing Unexpected monsoons It led to droughts, floods, and heat waves that made it nearly impossible to feed the family by cultivating the land. Local elders estimate that more than half of the town’s men have left to work abroad, largely heading to Qatar and the Gulf states in search of salaries to send back to their families. Approximately 3.5 million Nepalese (14% of the total population) working abroad today, Up from 220,000 in 2008. And while climate does not drive all migration, it does play an increasingly important role. “Climate change is encouraging people to go to the Gulf for work,” says Surya Narayan Sah, a Nagrain social worker. “Here we rely on rain to farm, and when it’s erratic, there’s no food, so they have to buy it, and the only way to earn cash is to go abroad.”
Labor migration can be an adaptive solution to climate change, but only if it is done right. Most of the time it is not. Desperate, these climate-motivated migrant workers are vulnerable to exploitation. In the Gulf, where organized labor unions are illegal, they lack the capacity to defend their rights and better working conditions. For this short film produced by TIME and Context and with the support of the Pulitzer Center, I’ve traveled the way approx. half a million Over the past decade, Nepalese migrant workers have moved to Middle Eastern countries such as Qatar, where they have helped build the stadiums, hotels, transportation systems and entertainment venues that will host fans and players for the upcoming FIFA Men’s World Cup. Starts November 20.
Qatar has spent more than $200 billion preparing for the World Cup, a construction boom that has drawn international attention to the country’s poor record on workers’ rights. Even before FIFA, the world soccer governing body that runs the World Cup, invited Qatar to host the tournament in 2010, the country was plagued by allegations of human rights abuses of its migrant workforce, which makes up 85% of the country’s population and includes a permanent underclass. AmnestiesAnd the Human Rights WatchAnd the labor organizationsAnd the Other groups It all documented exorbitant recruitment fees, unpaid wages, squalid living conditions, and exploitative contracts amounting to forced labour.
Read more: Thousands of migrant workers died in the extreme heat in Qatar. World Cup forced to reckon
Spotlight world forced a kind of calculation. In 2017, Qatar began dismantling the “sponsorship” system of worker sponsorship in which migrants are tied to their employers and cannot change jobs, among other reforms. a new report By the International Labor Organization, it was acknowledged that over the past four years, Qatar has implemented important reforms to improve “the working and living conditions of hundreds of thousands of workers,” but that “more work needs to be done to fully implement and enforce labor reforms.” The Qatari government’s attempts to differentiate between government-supervised construction projects in the World Cup and construction sites run by the private sector that do not live up to official labor standards, new scan 60 migrant workers working on FIFA-related projects by human rights organization Equidem It was revealed that discrimination, illegal hiring practices and, in some cases, unpaid wages, occurred on World Cup stadium construction sites. The organization notes that the prevalence of these alleged abuses “in workplaces heavily regulated by Qatar, FIFA and their partners” indicates that the reforms undertaken over the past five years have served as a cover for powerful companies seeking to exploit migrant workers. Escaping from the Punishment “.
Read more: Environmental crises force millions to flee to cities. Can countries turn climate migrants into assets?
Climate change may be driving labor migration from countries like Nepal, but it also makes this work more dangerous, particularly in the Gulf, where temperatures are rising twice as fast as the rest of the world. This greatly increases the risks to outdoor workers. Qatar has included strict heat protection measures in its suite of labor reforms, and the country is now widely seen as having one of the most advanced heat protection policies in the world, albeit from a very low level (only a few US states and a number of Few countries have any heat protection policies at all). Even then, the policies are as good as enforcement, and as the failures of other labor reforms show, implementation in Qatar can be incomplete.
Moreover, these policies are designed only for current conditions. Climate in the Middle East is expected to warm by 9 degrees Fahrenheit (5 degrees Celsius) by the end of the century, according to June 2022 study Posted in Geophysical assessments. Keeping outdoor workers safe in these conditions will require a fundamental overhaul of how construction is carried out. Some technological solutions, such as work clothes That keeps workers cool, already exists. Others are in the works, like Single screens It can track a worker’s heart rate, hydration levels, and core body temperature in order to prevent heat stress before it occurs. But these technologies are expensive. They will only save lives if lives are deemed worthy of being saved.
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