Today is the 21st International Migration Day.

The day is observed to promote the rights and well-being of the migrant workers and their families.

However, foreign employment is emptying villages of youth while also resulting in social, cultural and family disintegration.

Skilled and productive human resource has migrated abroad.

There are few employment opportunities within the country. Even in self-employed businesses, the youth are not satisfied. Hence, youths are compelled to opt for foreign employment to sustain and support their families. But in doing so, a young migrant worker spends his or her youth working in a foreign country, while sending remittance back home.

Nowadays, only the elderly and children have been left in the villages.

Shiva Regmi, programme officer of the Foreign Employment Board (FEB), says that there are hardly any youths left in the village as the migration for foreign employment has increased. "The villages have become youthless," said Regmi. "There is a shortage of productive human resource.

Our labour is being sold abroad at cheap prices."

Social capital is being damaged in Nepali society even though migration has brought in remittance. On the other hand, due to unsafe migration, our youth are losing their lives. "The statistics are alarming. The number of young people applying for passports in the last four months is staggering," says Regmi. "Self-employment needs to be emphasised."

According to the statistics of the FEB, 17 youths who went for foreign employment from Baglung lost their lives in the last fiscal year alone.

There are no statistics yet on the number of people who have lost their lives due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Five youths have returned with disabilities.

Manibhadra Sharma, president of the civil society organisation BYC Baglung, says that social and mental health problems are increasing in Nepal due to increased migration.

Many governmental and non-governmental organisations have come up with programmes to reduce foreign employment and engage youths in self-employment, but the economic, social and psychological impact of immigration needs to be addressed too.

A version of this article appears in the print on December 19, 2021, of The Himalayan Times.