Of the 2.4 million people living in Qatar, 1.4 million live in what the government officially refers to as “labor camps,” according to recently reported figures of an April 2015 census.
That’s an overwhelming 58% of the entire population.
The stats not only highlight the Gulf nation’s huge — and ever-growing — migrant force but also help direct the world’s attention toward their plight.
Since the census, Qatar's population has grown further to just over 2.5 million.
Although the country is home to more foreign workers than locals, the former are treated differently (read: worse) than the latter.
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Like nearly all other oil-rich Persian Gulf countries, Qatar is also notorious for its exploitation of migrant workers. The issue came under international criticism after the country won the bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2022.
In order to upgrade its infrastructure in preparation for the extravagant soccer event, Qatar recruited more workers to build large stadiums and luxurious accommodations for visitors.
However, the authorities failed to provide adequate facilities and protection, including proper accommodation, to the workforce. In March, Amnesty International said workers at Khalifa International Stadium were forced to live in “squalid accommodation, pay huge recruitment fees and have had wages withheld and passports confiscated.”
Qatar, in response, promised to look into the allegations, while saying it “welfare of migrant workers was a top priority."
Despite repeated assurances to improve living conditions for its expat workforce, 11 people were killed and 12 injured in Qatar when a fire broke out in a camp housing laborers who were working on a tourism project.