After the announcement of the budget few days ago, stakeholders working on the foreign employment sector had held a webinar session to discuss about the implementation of budget to safeguard safer migration.

Dr Padam Prasad Khatiwada, Vice-Chairman at the Social Welfare Council, pin-pointed the rights of migration sector in the budget presented by Finance Minister Bishnu Prasad Paudel.

During the session, Khatiwada interacted with the participants and assured the stakeholders that Social Welfare Council will lobby with the government on behalf of organisations working in the migration sector.

One of the participants, Sushila Shrestha, member of Beyond Beijing Committee (BBC) working for women right quipped that, "the current budget is like consuming ghee by taking loan."

The budget has failed to address the issues caused by the foreign employment--social disintegration, suffering of child and senior citizens caused by social disintegration. The budget has not addressed issues relating to creation of employment opportunities and reviving the existing industries to attract the youth for employment, Shrestha shared.

Dr Yamuna Ghale echoed that the fiscal planning has not incorporated the establishment of data bank to keep record of the returning migrant workers in the country. "The government should use the skills of the returnee migrant workers in the productive sector," Ghale lamented.

Among the participants, Tulasa Lata Amatya, Kunda Sharma, Rooma Adhikari from UAE highlighted the plight of the women during the lockdown brought about by unemployment.

Rooma Adhikari, social activist in the UAE shared that a majority of Nepalis traveling to the gulf state in tourist visa have been stranded there. "The government should do needful to stop from happening in the future," Adhikari shared.

Some of the participants highlighted the need to make the foreign employment safe as the government has failed to provide any employment opportunities in the country.

In closing remarks, Manju Gurung, advisor and former president of Paurakhi Nepal, said, the government should make environment favourable for returning women migrants to live with equity, equality and dignity in the society.

"We have been working in the sector for at least two decades now and the budget is like a slap in the cheek for especially returning women migrant workers as they don't have any access to mental health, information, socio-economic empowerment among others."

"Lack of government's rescue, repatriation, rehabilitation, reintegration, and lack of accesses to soft loan and PM Employment Fund have added more to the misery of these migrants workers," Gurung lamented.

Unless and until the migrant women issues are not made a political agenda, we won't get away from women being criminalised in far away lands, Gurung shared.

At least 100 participants had attended the session from Nepal and abroad, in which the attendees' major stress was on making migration safer. They also urged the concerned authorities to implement the rights of returning migrant workers as presented in the budget.

The program was jointly organized by Paurakhi Nepal and Safer Migration Project, and moderated by Kumar Yatru.

Compiled by Mausam Shah 'Nepali'