Nepal to crack Israel nut

KATHMANDU: After a four-month ban on Nepali migrant workers entering Israel, the Nepal government has finally decided to settle the problem. The Ministry of Labour and Transport Management (MoLTM) will send a high-level team to Israel led by Labour Minister Mohamed Aftab Alam on Wednesday.

According to Sthaneshwor Devkota, executive director of Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB), the team has three agenda — situation analysis, expansion of labour market and feasibility study of establishing a safe house. “As Nepali women are in a majority in Israel we want to establish a safe house there,” he said.

“MoLTM is sending a six-member delegation led by the minister,” said Purna Chandra Bhattarai, joint-secretary. According to Bhattarai, the team includes a member from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) for labour diplomacy.

Israel banned Nepali

workers since April 24, when a study commissioned by

Israel’s Interior Ministry found around 1,000 Nepali workers working there illegally. The ministry blamed Nepali outsourcing agencies for illegal stay of Nepali workers. Around 12,000 Nepalis are working in Israel and over 80 per cent of them are women working as care-givers.

MoLTM’s high-level team includes Devkota, Narayan Pant from MoFA, Bhushan Pokhrel, private secretary of the minister, Pitambar Abuhang from the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) and two members from the ministry. The team also includes owners of foreign employment agencies. “They will have to bear their own cost,” said Devekota.

Becoming illegal workers is not the fault of Nepali migrant workers, Yaakov Ganot, head of Israel’s Interior Ministry’s Population Department had said. Rather, they are victimised by groups who bring them to Israel in exchange for $8,000 to $12,000 to work in sectors where they have no experience, He added. ‘We will not issue permits until we get a satisfactory answer from the Nepali authorities,” he had said.

Responding to the Israeli government’s query, Nepali foreign employment agencies and the government reduced the service fee to $3,000 and promised to provide a guarantee of the workers on June. But, Israel has not agreed to lift the ban until a high-level team comes from Nepal.

The ban on Nepali workers entering Israel has affected around 5,00 workers who have completed all processes except getting visa.

Minister Alam will also take part in a Non-Resident Nepali conference in Dubai while returning from Israel.