No concrete steps yet to help migrant workers

Kathmandu, March 24

Even though it has been a few months since the coronavirus pandemic has hit most of the countries across the world, the government has failed to assess the situation of migrant workers and address their problems. In fact, the government has yet to collect the data of migrant labourers who have been affected in foreign lands.

Most of the major labour destinations for Nepali migrant workers such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, Bahrain, Kuwait and South Korea, among others, have been affected by the coronavirus outbreak and are fighting to solve the subsequent problems. As a result, migrant workers in the aforesaid countries are not only scared of contracting the virus but also afraid of losing their jobs.

Meanwhile, Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Gyawali and Minister for Labour, Employment and Social Security Rameshwor Yadav held a video conference with ambassadors and consular heads of Nepali diplomatic missions located in Gulf nations and Malaysia on Monday to know about the impact of the coronavirus on Nepali migrant workers. The ministers were apprised of the security measures taken by the governments of the Gulf states and the Malaysian government regarding the impact and effect of the coronavirus.

Till date, Nepali migrant workers have been quite fortunate. As per the Embassy of Nepal in the UAE, two workers had been diagnosed with the virus but have been discharged after recovering.

During the conference, both the ministers directed the ambassadors and heads of the missions to be in close contact and coordinate with the governments of the respective countries. The ministers also advised the diplomatic heads to be in touch with the employers and the Nepali diaspora and provide timely information to the government.

Minister Yadav informed the government would do all that is necessary and possible to ensure Nepalis do not face any problems abroad. He mentioned that heads of Nepali diplomatic missions were specifically urged to be in regular touch with employer firms and address any problems that migrants might face.

“We are assessing the situation and collecting information about the affected Nepalis for further process. If any person requires immediate help, the government will take the appropriate action,” Minister Yadav said.

However, Ganesh Gurung, a labour expert, says that Nepali migrant workers are at high risk from the coronavirus outbreak.

“The government and its foreign missions have failed to provide or assure sufficient physical and mental support to the migrants,” he stated.

“The government should be doing something substantial for the migrant workers because they are the backbone of the country’s economy,” said Gurung.

He added that the government should immediately introduce and implement measures to help support the migrant workers.