Government preparing to bring stranded migrant workers homeRepatriation could begin in two weeks. Around 25,000 need to return urgently, sources say.
Officials are preparing plans to bring stranded Nepali migrants home, nearly two months after international flights to and from the country were suspended, after Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli “changed his mind” about the issue.
Although officials had earlier proposed that the government repatriate Nepali migrant workers affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Oli had been reluctant to do so. The repatriation could begin within two weeks, officials said.
“The prime minister was not in favour of bringing back Nepalis home, but now he seems to have been convinced that it’s now time to do so,” a member of the High-level Committee for the Prevention and Control of Covid-19 told the Post.
A large number of lawmakers, including those from the ruling Nepal Communist Party, have long been demanding the government repatriate stranded citizens abroad. Earlier the Supreme Court has ordered the government to bring Nepali citizens home.
Nepali Congress lawmaker Gagan Thapa had registered a motion of public importance in Parliament on May 11 seeking the safe repatriation of stranded migrant workers from labour destination countries. The proposal called for the immediate rescue, relief and repatriation of those Nepali migrant workers who are in vulnerable conditions in various coronavirus-hit countries.
“We are waiting for a nod from our technical team working hard to manage people we are preparing to bring home,” said Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali, who is also a member of the high-level committee. “Within the next two week, I suppose we can start bringing them home.”
“Preparations are on to bring in 2,500 in a day—at least 10-12 flights,” a source claimed. “We have prepared a list of around 25,000 Nepalis who need to be evacuated urgently,” said an officer at the secretariat of the labour minister.
Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli’s changed stance on the migrant issue was also reflected in his speech before Parliament on Tuesday. He told lawmakers that bringing all the Nepali’s abroad home was not possible, but the government is preparing to repatriate those who have an urgent need to return.
Responding to queries from lawmakers on the government’s policy and programmes, Oli said that it might take years for around 4.5 million Nepali youths living abroad to be brought home as Nepal only has two international carriers.
“Our situation is different from that of others that just need to take their few hundreds citizens home,” the prime minister said.
Before the prime minister’s address to Parliament, a team from the high-level committee met at Singhadurbar to make necessary preparations to bring Nepali migrant workers home.
“After ensuring the safety of our citizens here, the government will bring Nepalis abroad home after making all necessary preparations,” the prime minister told the lawmakers.
Minister for Federal Affairs and General Administration Hridayesh Tripathi also said preparations are on to bring home Nepalis stranded abroad. “Things will be clear about the modality within a week,” Tripathi, who is also the member of the High-level Coordination Committee told the Post.