Kathmandu, August 23

Nepal has been receiving two dead migrant workers every day on an average for the past seven years, a recent report compiled by the Foreign Employment Promotion Board has shown.

A total of 5,832 Nepali migrants, including 5,710 males and 122 females, lost their lives in nine different labour destinations in the review period, according to the report.

A separate report of the Foreign Employment Welfare Fund states it has so far spent Rs 1.56 billion for distributing assistance to the kin of the deceased, rescue of those stranded in various labour destinations, treatment cost of those injured, and transportation of dead bodies, among others.

The fund presently has Rs 4.5 billion contributed by more than five million migrants. The amount is expected to increase to Rs 4.54 billion by the end of this fiscal, according to the board’s report presented at a meeting of the Parliamentary Industry, Commerce, Labour and Consumer Interest Committee today.

Secretary at the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security Mahesh Prasad Dahal said the fund earned interest at an annual rate of 10.5 per cent and the interest amount was spent for the welfare of migrants. The FEPB has estimated Rs 1.2 billion in welfare expenses this fiscal.

According to FEPB, victims receive Rs 700,000 in treatment assistance in case of injuries or severe illness in work destinations. In the case of death, the kin get Rs 700,000.

The FEPB has also offered scholarships to 1,255 children of migrant workers who either died or were severely injured. Their family members also received vocational training free of cost.

The migrant workers are required to buy life insurance policy worth Rs 1.5 million and insurance against critical illness of Rs 500,000 before to get permit to fly abroad for employment.

According to government policy, if a migrant worker is jailed, s/he will get legal assistance free of cost. However, it has yet to be implemented. “The working procedure has moved forward,” Dahal said.

According to Dahal, migrant workers suffering from serious illness will also be brought back home and provided free treatment. “We are preparing a work plan for this,” he said.

Minister of Labour, Employment and Social Security Gokarna Bista said the government has proposed to change the board’s name to Foreign Employment Management Board. “Promoting foreign employment is not the government’s priority, so we are changing the name,” he told the committee meeting.

According to Dahal, the government will also provide Rs 1 million in loan to returnees to help them start entrepreneurial ventures. The finance ministry is making preparations for distribution of such loans,” Dahal said.

The government also plans not to allow unskilled workers to go for foreign employment. “The rules will be implemented within three months,” Dahal said.

The FEPB has floated an idea of devising a five-year strategic plan and work plan on the basis of amended policies and various task force recommendations.

Deaths on foreign soil

Country                Number of workers who died

Malaysia             2,152 (2,125 males, 27 females)

Saudi Arabia       1,637 (1,634 males, 3 females)

Qatar                  1,199 (1,191 males, 8 females)

UAE                    485 (456 males, 29 females)

Kuwait                186 (149 males, 37 females)

Bahrain               77 (75 males, 2 females)

South Korea       74 males

Lebanon             20 ( 4 males,16 females)

Sri Lanka             2 males