Bodies of dozens of Nepali migrant workers await repatriation as international flights are shut down due to pandemicRepatriation process of over seventy bodies have been put on hold for weeks now, a Foreign Employment Board official says.
Bodies of dozens of Nepali migrant workers who lost their lives in various labour destination countries remain stranded for weeks now, unable to be repatriated due to the ongoing travel restrictions and lockdown owing to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The country is under a strict lockdown at least until April 27 and international flights suspended until April 30, as a result the families of the deceased migrant workers have been deprived from performing the funeral and final rites of their loved ones.
According to the Foreign Employment Board, the repatriation process of over seventy bodies have been put on hold because international flights are not allowed to land in Nepal.
“Bodies of migrant workers in several labour destination countries have started to pile up,” Rajan Prasad Shrestha, executive director of the board, told the Post. “We have been collecting details of the families in Nepal regarding the repatriation of their deceased loved ones.”
The last time a body was repatriated was of a man from the United Arab Emirates on March 23, a day before the lockdown. He had died on February 22.
Since the travel restrictions, deaths of twenty-eight Nepali workers have been reported in Saudi Arabia, fifteen in Malaysia, twelve in the United Arab of Emirates, eight in Qatar, six in Kuwait and one each in Seychelles, Cyprus and South Korea.
In some cases, the board has been arranging the funeral of the deceased Nepali migrant workers abroad with the consent of their families back home.
Four such funerals —two in the UAE, one in South Korea and one in Seychelles—have been performed so far, but Shrestha says conducting funeral services in foreign countries was also getting difficult these days due to the pandemic.
The families of most of the deceased migrant workers would rather wait out the lockdown and travel restrictions so that they could hold the funeral services of their loved ones at home, Shrestha said.
“These families have been going through a difficult time. First, they lost their loved ones and then they were deprived from mourning their loss.”
Shrestha added the board has informed the higher authorities, including the Labour Ministry, about the hold-up caused in the repatriation of the deceased Nepali migrants.
But since the lockdown and travel restrictions are unlikely to be lifted anytime soon, the grief-stricken families have been left with no option than to wait for the situation to return to normal.
The board will start ferrying the bodies of deceased migrant workers soon after the international flights are resumed, Shrestha said.
“We are on standby. Once the international flights resume, we will start repatriating the bodies. The bodies will be decontaminated before they are sent home to lower the risk of infection. Until then, the concerned families have to wait. Nothing can be done until the lockdown is over.”