North Korea is pocketing money earned by its citizens on building sites in Qatar, it has been claimed
North Korea is pocketing money earned by its citizens on building sites in Qatar, it has been claimedGetty

North Korea is pocketing money earned by its citizens who are working on building sites in Qatar, in conditions of modern slavery.

Teams of citizens from the reclusive Stalinist state are working in construction in the desert kingdom, but seeing little or none of their pay, according to a Guardian report.

The Guardian spoke to North Korean workers working in the city of Doha – which is set to host Fifa World Cup matches in 2022. One of them said: "We are here to earn foreign currency for our nation."

The reports estimates there are as many as 65,000 North Koreans working in the Emirati state.

One North Korean worker said: "People like us don't usually get paid. The money does not come to the person directly. It's nothing to do with me, it's the [North Korean recruitment] company's business."

Four construction sites in what shall become the new £28bn Lusail City were identified as having teams working there for money which is funnelled to Pyongyang, according to the North Korea Strategy Centre.

Foreign currency is valued by Kim Jong-un's regime for promising financial stability and boosting its purchasing power overseas.

So small is the take-home pay for workers from in Doha, that they have to borrow money for small items such as cigarettes.

IBTimes UK contacted the Qatari embassy in London, but got no reply.

Human rights groups have expressed alarm over conditions for foreign workers in Qatar, which has the spotlight on it with the World Cup due to take place there in less than six years.

Particular concern has been raised over the terms of employment under which many migrant labourers enter the country. A form of sponsorship ties individuals to their employer, who assumes over-arching responsibility for pay and accommodation.

Many workers go months without pay and live in poor conditions and have virtually no rights, it is claimed. Escaping the sponsorship – called Kafala – makes the worker an illegal immigrant.