Guidelines ready for repatriation of migrant workers who cannot pay for their flightsThose who have already returned at their own expenses can claim for reimbursement.
The government has finalised the guidelines for repatriating the Nepali migrant workers stranded overseas amid Covid-19 pandemic.
Two weeks earlier, the Supreme Court had issued an interim order directing the government to bring home the stranded workers at its own expenses. The court had issued the order in response to a petition against the government’s inaction to repatriate the Nepali citizens who were languishing in foreign countries without jobs and money to return home. As per the repatriation guidelines, the government will bear all the cost of bringing home the Nepali workers who had gone on foreign employment and rendered jobless within a year due to the pandemic.
The government will pay for the return tickets of the workers through the Migrant Workers’ Welfare Fund as per the Supreme Court order of June 15. The court had directed the government to immediately repatriate those workers who are unable to pay for their air fares to return home.
“The government will be bearing 100 percent expenses of the workers who had been to the labour destination countries for less than a year and are unable to return home at their own cost,” Suman Ghimire, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, told the Post.
However, there are certain conditions regarding free-of-charge repatriation of the migrant workers.
“Not every migrant worker who is returning within a year of their migration will get the government support. One has to have a valid labour permit from the government and the proof that their employer or the host country is not paying for their air fare,” Ghimire said.
According to Ghimire, the income of the workers during the period of their employment will also be accounted for before their repatriation at the government’s expenses.
For other workers, who have been in labour destination countries for more than a year, the government will only foot 50 percent of the total repatriation cost, according to the guidelines.
The Nepali missions in labour destination countries will ascertain whether the workers have remained stranded without money after being unpaid by their employers, or lost their jobs and did not receive any support from elsewhere.
As per the government estimates, nearly 25,000 Nepalis require urgent repatriation from several countries, mainly from the Persian Gulf states and Malaysia.
The Labour Ministry has prioritised the repatriation of those migrant workers who are sick, vulnerable and have family emergencies, among others, in the first phase.
“Even among workers who meet the standards, pregnant women migrant workers, those who have suffered death in the family and those with health issues will be brought home in the first phase,” Ghimire said.
The Migrant Workers’ Welfare Fund, which was set up with workers’ contribution to help them out in times of trouble, has collected nearly Rs 6 billion over the years.
However, delay in drafting of the repatriation guidelines had deprived the workers from accessing the fund and many of them were compelled to return home at their own expenses.
The repatriation guidelines, which has been forwarded to the Cabinet for approval, also ensures reimbursement of expenses incurred by the workers who had returned home with their money. To claim the reimbursement, one must meet the criteria mentioned in the guidelines and file their applications with the Department of Foreign Employment.
The department will in turn send the applications to the concerned embassies for verification before approving the reimbursement.