Bodies of hundreds of migrant workers repatriated after resumption of flightsMore than 150 workers were cremated abroad with the consent of their families due to months of repatriation delay caused by flight restrictions amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Bodies of hundreds of migrant workers who died in labour destination countries during the Covid-19 lockdown in Nepal were brought home after the government started repatriation flights in late June following the lifting of the lockdown.
Repatriation of almost all the deceased migrant workers whose bodies were stuck in various countries has been completed after months, officials at the Foreign Employment Board said.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, flights to and from Nepal were suspended for several months. As a result, bodies of hundreds of Nepali migrant workers could not be brought home.
According to Din Bandhu Subedi, spokesperson of the board, the bodies of 668 workers were stuck in various countries for months since the flights were banned and the country was under a complete lockdown.
“After months of a continuous process, we have managed to bring back most of the bodies and hand them over to their families,” Subedi told the Post. “Now, hardly a dozen bodies remain in foreign countries. We will soon bring them home.”
Repatriation of most of the bodies was made possible after the government announced to conduct repatriation flights which would also be carrying mortal remains of deceased migrant workers.
Limited number of flights had made the repatriation process lengthy in the initial weeks. The process accelerated with the resumption of regular flights, according to Subedi.
As per the statistics of the board, 492 bodies have been brought home after the repatriation flights started.
Likewise, 167 deceased workers were cremated in the countries where they had died. As repatriation of bodies would take a long time, several families had consented to carrying out the funeral of their loved ones in foreign countries without them present.
“With prior consent from their family members, the bodies of migrant workers were cremated in the countries where they had died,” said Subedi.
The board had announced additional financial support of Rs50,000 for families who consented to performing the final rites of their loved ones abroad, as repatriation would take a long time
“Once the repatriation flights started, we had put the repatriation of the bodies on our priority. There were days when around 20 bodies were coming from Qatar and around 15 from Malaysia,” Subedi told the Post.
Repatriation of bodies from Saudi Arabia had taken a longer time than from any other countries.
“Bringing back the bodies from Saudi Arabia was slow not only because of the flight issues but also because of other procedures. It usually takes four weeks to bring back a body from Saudi Arabia,” said Subedi. “A clearance is required from the Labour Court, followed by other paperwork from employers before the Nepal embassy gives a no-objection letter. Also, Saudi Arabia is a vast country in comparison to other Gulf states, so it takes a long-time in managing everything.”
The board provides financial assistance of Rs 700,000 to families of the deceased workers if they die when their work permits are still valid. For other workers, the board still provides Rs25,000 as funeral expenses.
Besides, the board also provides transport to ferry the bodies from the airport to the hometown of the deceased workers.
“As grieving family members could not travel to Kathmandu to receive the bodies of their loved ones due to lockdown and prohibitory orders, the board had taken the responsibility of transporting the bodies to their homes,” said Subedi.