Kathmandu, April 18: The Ministry of Foreign Affair (MoFA) is planning to issue passports that would clearly restrict Nepali blue-colour job seekers to go to Iraq in search for greener pasture.
In the page stating restrictions in the passport the statement reads — “Not valid to travel to Iraq for work.”
Foreign employment agencies and Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) have been urging the MoFA to make such arrangement to curb illegal migration in Iraq. “It will definately discourage the migrant Nepali workers to go to Iraq for work,” Mohan Krishna Sapkota, director general of DoFE said adding that his department has been urging the MoFA since long to make such arrangements. “It will make positive impact and reduce the flow to Iraq — the banned destination for Nepalis after 12 Nepalis were killed,” he added.
Iraq is a banned destination for Nepali migrant workers after 12 Nepalis were killed on September 1 four year ago by a radical militant group called Ansar-al-Sunnah. The government had also banned Jordan from where those Nepalis had entered Iraq.
MoFA has received about one million copies of these new passports recently. But, according to the sources, the passport cannot bar Nepalis to visit Iraq in tourist visa.
The new passports are supplied by Indonesian firm Perum Puriri which bid for MoFA contract of 3.2 million copies.
Dan Bahadur Tamang, a foreign employment agency-owner adviced the government to take a step further and mobilise its diplomatic missions abroad to support the effort. “Iraq is already a banned country for Nepali migrant workers but still Nepalis are going to Iraq,” he said adding that the illegal channels should be traced and punished. The popular routes of entering Iraq are Kuwait, Jordan, Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Over 2,00,000 Nepalis have been working as labours, drivers, guards, cleaners, cooks and domestic helpers in Iraq at present despite government’s ban.
According to Tamang, there are various networks of human traffickers that send Nepalis to Iraq through illegal channels. “Our government should seek Iraqi government help also,” he added. Without the help of Iraqi government the ban could not be effective because there are many illegal routes to enter Iraq.