Nepalese Beyond Boundaries...

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The mankind is going through the toughest time ever since after the Second World War. The recent outbreak of COVID-19 as pandemic has affected the whole world. No country in the world is free from its effects and Nepal is no exception to it. However the impacts of COVID-19 are minimal in Nepal till so far though we cannot predict the scenario remains the same in the future too.  Surely, we can hope for the best to happen. Most of the countries in the world have initiated various precautionary and protective measures to combat with this very pandemic. Lockdown has been into action to restrict the transmission of the disease leading to the closure of all the industries, except those related with medical productions in particular, business and hotels are closed. People are bounded to be limited to their houses. The measures taken to counter the disease have affected the whole population including the Nepalese migrant workers.

In such context, Nepalese migrant workers remain the most vulnerable section affected. The huge number of Nepalese people leaving the country to find work overseas has allowed many families to recover their economic circumstances and forecasts for the future. At the same time it has added the risk and vulnerability to the group in many aspects. The change in migration patterns to destinations beyond India clearly coincides with the formulation of first Foreign Employment Act in 1985. The act supported for the mobility of Nepalese for employment to destinations beyond India by setting the procedures to obtain employment overseas.

Nepal Government has permitted 110 countries for labor migration on organizational basis. Likewise, Nepalese are working on 172 countries on the basis of individual labor permit. Gulf cooperation and Malaysia remains the most popular destination of Nepalese migrants' workers.  According to Foreign Employment Board, 50 lakh people are in foreign employment till fiscal year 2074/75. The number increases considering the number of undocumented labor force and those who have gone for the foreign employment illegally.

COVID -19 has seriously affected these migrant workers and will cause huge damage to the economy of Nepal as the contribution of remittance in GDP of Nepal is significantly high. In order to protect the right of migrant workers and to reduce the transmission of the virus in the community, it is high time for the government to proactively address the following current issues.

Tracing and testing of deported Nepalese Migrant workers and protecting their rights.

With the outbreak of COVID -19, all countries as preventive measures started to restrict the movement of people. On 16th March, 2020 around 150 Nepalese were deported to Nepal from Qatar. Most of them were documented and were working legally. Shabin Bhattari (Name Changed) was one of them. He was working as driver in Qatar since two years. He was buying vegetable in the market when the police suddenly took him into the custody. He was informed that he was taken for the test of COVID -19 but without any checkup he was kept in the detention center along with hundreds of other placing him and others at the risk of serious transmission of diseases. After keeping them in the detention center for about 2 days, he was deported to Nepal on Monday 16th march 2020. The deported migrant workers including him were not given the chance to collect either of their money or other essential things with them. He is just a representative figure of around 150 migrant Nepalese workers who have gone through the similar problems.

I wonder almost 150 Nepalese migrant workers were detained for two days and our Embassy remains unnoticed about the issues. In these instances of emergency, our embassies and diplomatic missions abroad must be proactive to respond and rescue the migrants workers instead of being unnoticed of the injustice happening to their own citizens. No any Nepalese who have migrated fulfilling the legal procedures of the host countries should be deported without any authentic reasons. Now, Government of Nepal must strongly take steps to provide the benefits to those deported Nepali migrants who are entitled to their benefits as per their work.

Another shortcoming of the Nepali Government has been observed to be lack of surveillance and testing of those deported migrants. Neither those migrant were tested in Qatar and in Nepal after the deportation. There is a huge chance that these migrant workers can be the medium of virus transmission in Nepal as they have reached their houses. Hence the government must trace these migrant workers and keep close surveillance on them with respect.

Protection of Migrant workers during pandemic in destination

Still huge numbers of migrant workers are in GCC and Malaysia. Due to the closure of all the business, hotels industries etc., the workers are in quarantine in their room. As most of the populations of Nepalese migrant workers are unskilled, they are sharing the rooms in a group with limited facilities thus making them more vulnerable to the transmission of the disease. Furthermore, many more workers do not have proper accommodation and food facilities which make them more vulnerable. The government of the destination has announced in many occasions to keep their employees in unpaid leave which further adds uncertainty to migrant workers.

Considering this scenario, Government of Nepal, through its Embassies and diplomatic missions, in the destination must ensure the safety and security of the migrant workers along with the immediate response at emergency. Government must facilitate their access to food, shelter and health protection.

Looking Beyond the Boundary.

It is high time that Government of Nepal must look beyond the boundaries. According to Nepal Rastra Bank, foreign employment contributed around 29.6 percent of the total GDP in 2072/73. Likewise, NLSS Survey 2011 depicted that the remittance reaches 55.8% of households of the Nepal. Likewise 31 lakh families receive remittance of 80,400 per family. These data clearly shows that the foreign employment contribute significantly in Nepal's GDP and living  standard of large number of households in Nepal. It is obvious that the pandemic will fade sooner or later but it will create huge economic depression as notified by IMF and other concerned authorities. Large numbers of Nepalese migrant workers are going to lose their job and return to Nepal which will ultimately have its significant impact on the GDP of Nepal as well as will have serious implication on the family depending on those migrant workers. It is therefore, Government must make concrete plan to deal with these upcoming situations. Government has to put its action and plan into gears to mitigate the huge crisis that is going to be created by the COVID-19 Pandemic.

It becomes the responsibility of the state to protect their citizens whether they are within or beyond the boundary of Nepal.






Position: Human Right Activist


nice article

nice article

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