AI calls on govt to protect migrant workers, other marginalised groups

KATHMANDU: Amnesty International (AI) on Friday said the nationwide lockdown and closure of borders -- in response to the COVID-19 pandemic -- has gravely impacted thousands of people.

The international human rights organisation stated that migrant workers are stranded in the countries where they work, and people living in poverty are struggling to fulfil their basic needs across the country.

Saying that while implementing measures to protect public health are important to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, AI urged the government to ensure that these measures are consistent with the country's international human rights obligations.

"Any measures undertaken by the government in its fight against COVID-19 must be consistent with human rights, particularly the rights of marginalised groups and others who are particularly at risk in this context," said Nirajan Thapaliya, Director of Amnesty International Nepal. "Furthermore, the government should put in place measures to protect people whose health and livelihoods are at risk."

Following the global surge in the cases of COVID-19 infection and mortality, the government enforced a nationwide lockdown on March 24, including sealing its borders and banning all international flights to and from Nepal.

Thousands of Nepali migrant workers abroad -- including in Qatar and Malaysia (which collectively host the highest number of Nepali workers), and India -- are now in a dire situation as these countries have also imposed lockdowns and other public health measures spanning several weeks, Thapaliya added.