33,000 Cambodian workers to Qatar

An agreement was reached on Wednesday 18 May between the Cambodian Labour Minister and Qatar’s Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, that Cambodia will send up to 33,000 workers to Qatar for a variety of construction projects in the lead-up to the 2022 World Cup. This came after an initial request from the Qatari Government for up to 100,000 migrant workers. 


The Qatari Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs’ director of the Department of Legal Affairs, Saleh Saeed Al Shawi, told the Phnom Penh Post that for Cambodians to work in the emirate a plan should be created including a “protection mechanism” for migrant workers. “I hope we will form a committee [of Cambodian dignitaries] to travel to Qatar to see the development of the country and how we control the workers and protect migrant workers’ rights,” he said. 


The two Governments are now facilitating communication between recruitment agencies in both nations, however the Cambodian Labour Minister San Heng noted that, “we have much work to do for worker protection and safety.” A 2016 high-level tripartite ILO mission to Qatar, for example, found workers stranded without passports, systemic non-payment of wages and other indications of forced labour. 


Qatar is already home to 1.8 million migrant workers, many of whom are working on construction sites building sporting facilities, accommodation and other infrastructure projects connected to the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Since there is currently no Cambodian embassy in Qatar, questions have been raised as to where Cambodian migrant workers can and will seek support should they find themselves in distress.