Nepal embassy in Malaysia collects data of stranded Nepali workersHundreds of Nepali migrant workers could not return to Nepal even after having bought air tickets, and they remain locked inside their apartments.
The Nepal embassy in Malaysia has started collecting information of Nepali migrant workers stranded in Malaysia due to the ongoing travel restrictions.
The Southeast Asian country has enforced the ‘Movement Control Order’ from March 18 to April 14 in a bid to stop the spread of Covid-19. Following the restriction, a large number of Nepali migrant workers in Malaysia could not return to Nepal even after having bought airfare tickets, and they remain locked inside their apartments. Some are living with reduced working hours while others fear that they might contract the disease, as their employers force them to work. Malaysia is the hardest hit Southeast Asian country by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Embassy of Nepal in Kuala Lumpur has started collecting details on those Nepali workers whose flight back home got cancelled due to the restriction and also those whose visas have expired.
“Many workers had their flights cancelled because of the government’s order. It is an even bigger problem for those whose visas have expired during the ongoing lockdown,” Maheshwar Mani Tripathi, the second secretary at the Nepal embassy in Malaysia, told the Post over the phone. “We have started collecting data on the number of Nepali workers with such issues. This is both a registration and online survey to find out their status as of now.”
Malaysia, which is home to nearly 500,000 Nepali migrant workers, has over 2,900 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 45 reported deaths as of Thursday afternoon. The WHO has said the cases of Covid-19 might see a spike in mid-April.
“The data is being collected to support them with consular they might require in times to come. The Malaysian government is also interested in knowing the number of foreigners, including Nepali workers, affected and unable to leave the country,” said Tripathi. “Many Nepali workers are worried about what will happen to them after their visas expire.”
In normal circumstances, if an individual overstays, he/she is liable to pay 100 Malaysian Ringgit (Approx 2762.99) and get their visa extended for upto a month based on the reason for overstaying.
Many migrant workers in major labour destination countries, including Malaysia, have been taking to social media to express their concerns on the issue of visa expiry and the possibility of returning to Nepal.
Every day, the Nepal embassy in Malaysia receives dozens of phone calls on their hotline number from Nepali workers, inquiring about booked flight tickets, visa expiry and the possibility of returning to Nepal. However, travel restrictions imposed by both the host and home countries do not allow them to return home.
According to the Nepal embassy in Malaysia, the ongoing movement restrictions order has affected hundreds of Nepali workers whose visas have expired and whose flight tickets got cancelled. But the mission in Kuala Lumpur says it does not have any immediate plan of repatriating these workers.
“We are collecting the information so we know the number of Nepali workers affected due to the ongoing travel ban. This is not for the purpose of repatriation,” said Tripathi. “If we have all the information, we can think of what can be done and what kind of intervention is required to help Nepali workers. We need to have data first before we consider doing anything.”