Repatriation of bodies of migrant workers who died abroad resumesOver 300 remains were in queue since international flights were suspended during the lockdown.
Repatriation of bodies of migrant workers who died abroad has resumed after various chartered flights from labour destinations landed in Nepal in the last few days.
Since the evacuation of Nepalis stranded abroad began on June 10, nearly four dozen bodies have been repatriated and handed over to the families of the deceased, officials said.
“Bodies of Nepali migrant workers who died abroad could not be brought back home during the lockdown,” said Din Bandhu Subedi, a spokesperson for the Foreign Employment Board, the government body responsible for the welfare of migrant workers.
Now, bodies are coming to Nepal almost every day, Subedi said. Their number has reached nearly 50 so far.
According to the board, 50 bodies will soon be arriving in Nepal from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Malaysia. The bodies are handed over to their families at the airport.
After the government suspended all flights and enforced a complete nationwide lockdown on March 24, the bodies of deceased migrant workers had remained stuck in various countries, mainly in the Persian Gulf, Malaysia and South Korea.
The board said that 318 bodies of migrant workers had remained stuck in various countries during the lockdown. After the government extended the lockdown multiple times, and international flights could not resume, the board had started seeking permission from the affected families’ members to allow the cremation of their kin in the country where they died. So far, the remains of over 100 migrant workers have been cremated in various countries, said Subedi.
The free hearse service provided by the board has been used to send bodies to various districts for their final rites. According to Subedi, these vans have been transporting bodies across the country and also to Pashupati in Kathmandu, if families wish to cremate the body there.
To avoid the potential spread of coronavirus, coffins are being disinfected whereas the hearse drivers have been given personal protective equipment.
“We have maintained the highest safety measures while bringing home bodies and handing them over to the families even though the mortal remains of Nepalis who died of Covid-19 are not brought to Nepal,” said Subedi. “Also, we have not allowed any other person, including family members or relatives, to travel on the vehicle.”
The government plan of repatriating Nepali workers stranded in various countries also includes bringing back the bodies. Following the guidelines, the cost of the repatriation of bodies need to be met by the employer concerned.
“Most of the time, employers have paid for the repatriation of bodies on chartered flights,” said Subedi. “We have also sent money to Nepali missions abroad so that not a single body remains stranded for the lack of money.”
Meanwhile, the board has also resumed the distribution of financial assistance to the family members of deceased Nepali workers after the lockdown was eased. The families can also apply for compensation from their respective local government without having to travel to Kathmandu, the board said.