118 Nepalis arrive from Afghanistan via KuwaitOfficials say they were working inside the US embassy in Kabul and evacuated by the Americans.
As many as 118 Nepalis arrived in Kathmandu from Afghanistan via Kuwait on Tuesday morning.
They were evacuated to Kuwait from Afghanistan on Monday, a day after the Taliban took control of the Afghan capital Kabul.
Nine Indians also arrived along with the Nepalis, officials said.
“The evacuees have landed in Kathmandu,” Brigadier General Santosh Ballave Poudyal, Nepal Army spokesperson, told the Post. “We will receive them and take them to a holding centre at Samakhusi.”
A medical team of the army will carry out antigen tests of the evacuees before deciding whether to let them go for home isolation or keep them at isolation centres constructed by the government. Currently, two isolation centres are in operation–in Samakhusi and Ichhangunarayan.
“The medical teams at the isolation centre will take the decision based on the conditions of the returnees,” said Poudyal.
Harish Chandra Ghimire, joint secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the rescued Nepalis were working inside the United States embassy in Kabul.
“Along with Nepali citizens, nine Indian nationals have also arrived in the same flight. They too were working inside the US embassy.”
After Kabul fell to the Taliban ending the United States’ era in Afghanistan, like any other country in the world, Nepal too has been scrambling to evacuate its citizens from the war-torn country. The Sher Bahadur Deuba government has requested all foreign missions and the United Nations and its agencies who employed Nepalis to help rescue its citizens.
Those who arrived on Tuesday were evacuated by the Americans.
“The Americans brought these Nepali citizens home,” said Ghimire.
The government does not have the exact number of Nepalis working in Afghanistan.
According to the Department of Foreign Employment, in the last fiscal year, ending mid-July, 1,073 Nepalis had obtained labour permits to work in Afghanistan. The department’s statistics show that in the last seven years, more than 8,000 Nepalis have been issued labour permits to Afghanistan.
But there are no figures of the undocumented Nepali workers, and estimates suggest there could be more than 14,000. Afghanistan is one of the key countries, despite high risk, where Nepalis prefer to go due to high pay.
“We dont have the exact data on undocumented Nepalis working in Afghanistan. As of now, we have data of 1,500 Nepalis working in Afghanistan,” Ghimire told the Post on Monday.
According to data provided by the Nepali Embassy in New Delhi, out of 579 Nepalis working inside the US Embassy in Kabul, 184 have already been repatriated and they are on their way to Nepal.
Besides the US embassy, 467 Nepali nationals are working under various UN’s specialised agencies in Kabul, according to Subedi.
In the German embassy in Kabul, 60 Nepali nationals are working, in the United Kingdom embassy, there are 87 and in the Japanese embassy, the number of Nepali employees is 62. Around 60 Nepalis are working in the Canadian mission in Kabul as per the available data.
The Japanese authorities have assured that they would repatriate the Nepalis working within their premises within 72 hours in a chartered flight, according to officials.
Since Nepal does not have direct diplomatic links with Afghanistan–the Embassy in New Delhi is accredited to look after Kabul–and there are no clear mechanisms in Kathmandu, officials say evacuating Nepalis, especially the undocumentd ones, could be easier said than done.
After chaos and panic at the Kabul international airport on Monday, as thousands of Afghans rushed to the tarmac and clung onto airplanes in a desperate move to get out of the country, all flights to and out from Afghanistan have been suspended.
Airport officials said the evacuees were brought in a Jazeera Airways plane from Kuwait.
Around 300 Nepalis are expected to arrive from Doha later in the day, according to an official at Tribhuvan International Airport. “They are also being brought by the Americans.”