First batch of Nepalis returning from Lebanon after months of waitNepalis in Lebanon want the government to continue the repatriation flights.
Chandan Kumar Mandal
After months-long wait, the Nepali migrant workers stranded in the crisis-stricken Lebanon are finally returning home this week. The first batch of workers will land in Kathmandu on Wednesday.
Until last week, Manju had little hope of returning home after she had gone through numerous rescheduling of flights. Now, her hopes of flying back home have once again got wings with the latest development.
“We are finally coming home,” Manju told the Post from Beirut over the phone. “I cannot express how happy it feels to be returning home after several months of struggle.”
The joy of Rai, another migrant worker who wished to be identified only by her last name, also knows no bounds upon learning that the flight service was finally going to restart.
“Like everyone, I am so glad to learn that I will be returning home soon,” said Rai, has been living in the West Asian country since 2009.
The special repatriation flight will be flying home more than 34 Nepalis. Most of them are women migrant workers who had reached Lebanon to work as domestic help.
According to Ashok Thapa, the president of the Lebanon chapter of Non-Resident Nepali Association, the number of Nepali migrant workers returning home on the Qatar Airways flight, would go up as ticket booking is still open.
For a long time, Nepali migrant workers living and working in Lebanon have been waiting to return home as the country has been hit by numerous crises in the last few months.
Since last year the West Asian country has been undergoing the worst economic crisis in its history. The country already reeling with hyperinflation and job losses was caught in the grips of the Covid-19 pandemic when it was hit by the August 4 explosion in the capital city that killed hundreds of people.
Hundreds of Nepali migrant workers who were caught amid all these crises wanted to return home. But with no help forthcoming from the Nepal government, the workers were in a situation of helplessness and forgotten in a foreign land for several months.
“The flight could finally be arranged after regular efforts of the Honorary Consulate of Nepal in Lebanon, Nepal Embassy in Cairo and frequent media reporting about the plights of Nepali workers in Lebanon,” said Thapa. “Nepalis going on the scheduled flights were languishing here for several months without jobs. They were living in scarcity and even suffering for food and accommodation.”
The Honorary Consulate of Nepal and other welfare organisations have paid for the PCR tests for most of the Nepalis taking Tuesday’s flight.
It is estimated that Lebanon hosts nearly 5,000 Nepali workers, including 2,000-3,000 women working as housemaids.
With the economic slowdown and then the pandemic, the women Nepali workers have been affected the most as their host families have been unable to pay them.
The Nepalis living in Lebanon want the government to conduct regular flight service to evacuate those who are in trouble.
According to Thapa, nearly 80 percent of Nepalis in Lebanon want to return home as they have been affected with the recent turn of events in the country.
“More people will be buying tickets in the coming weeks for Nepal. This is just the beginning of a significant number of Nepalis returning home,” said Thapa. “This should not be the last flight from Lebanon to Nepal. If not many, at least one repatriation flight should be allowed from Lebanon. These workers must return home as they have no jobs.”