Motion tabled in Parliament to repatriate Nepali migrant workersThe motion of public importance tabled by Nepali Congress lawmaker Gagan Thapa recommends that the government initiate rescue and repatriation of Nepalis from Covid-19 hit countries based on their status of vulnerability.
Chandan Kumar Mandal
A motion of public importance seeking safe repatriation of stranded migrant workers from labour destination countries has been registered in Parliament on Monday.
The proposal tabled by Nepali Congress leader Gagan Thapa, and supported by two other parliamentarians –Dila Sangraula and Prakash Rasaily, calls for the immediate rescue, relief and repatriation of those Nepali migrant workers who are in vulnerable conditions in various coronavirus-hit countries.
Thousands of Nepali migrant workers, including those who were recently granted general amnesty and those who have lost their jobs and are currently stranded in the Covid-19 hit countries are yearning to return home.
According to the proposal, repatriation of Nepali migrant workers can take place in different phases based on the conditions of workers. While those in critical conditions can be brought home first, those less affected and willing to return home voluntarily should be repatriated later.
Likewise, workers who are not at risk but have only lost their jobs due to lockdown can be looked after in the labour destination countries in coordination with the local authorities, the proposal has stated.
“Not everyone is willing to come immediately and they cannot be brought at once. But there should be arrangements in place to bring those workers who are at risk,” reads the proposal. “For this, the government can decide who should be repatriated first based on their conditions and initiate the repatriation process accordingly.”
Tens of thousands of Nepali migrant workers in major labour destination countries in the Persian Gulf, Malaysia and South Korea have been affected due to the global pandemic of Covid-19. While a large number of workers have already lost their jobs, others are living in terrible conditions, struggling for food and accommodation and under constant fear of coronavirus infection.
Calls to repatriate Nepali workers from these Covid-19 affected countries have grown louder in recent weeks as the coronavirus infection rate has multiplied. Continued lockdowns in these countries and suspension of economic activities have led to the loss of income opportunities for many Nepali workers, forcing them to either return home or stay on unpaid leave for an indefinite period.
“Nepali migrant workers, who already had several difficulties during normal conditions, have encountered additional problems due to Covid-19 pandemic,” said the proposal. “While tens of thousands of Nepali workers have been affected by the pandemic, a few thousand have been reportedly infected and several dozen workers have lost their lives due to Covid-19.”
According to the Non-Resident Nepali Association (NRNA), at least 78 Nepalis have died in various foreign countries due to Covid-19 pandemic until Saturday.
However, the government asking these workers to stay safe wherever they are and failing to come up with a plan to bring them home even after several months show that the government is shirking its responsibility towards the safety and welfare of Nepali migrant workers, parliamentarians have pointed out in the proposal.
The proposal has said that repatriation of Nepali students from China in the early days of the pandemic, the government’s decision to bring back Nepali workers from the UN Missions in Afghanistan as well as several other countries chartering flights to rescue their citizens from Nepal show that repatriation of Nepali workers is possible.
The proposal has recommended that the government immediately collect details on the number of affected migrant workers and their condition, categorise their level of vulnerability, plan their rescue and repatriation in coordination with various agencies and make arrangements for their testing and quarantine, among others.
The Nepali Congress lawmakers have also demanded that Nepali workers willing to return home from India and those stranded along the border should be allowed to enter the country via few selected border points and keep them in quarantine facilities before they are allowed to return to their families.