Nepal | January 16, 2021

Kin’s permission sought to bury 144 Nepalis who died abroad

Repatriation of bodies not possible as flights are suspended till May 31 to check COVID spread

Himalayan News Service
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Kathmandu, May 14

Families of 144 Nepali migrant workers who have died due to causes other than the novel coronavirus may be deprived of the opportunity to say their final good-byes to the departed, as the lockdown has made it difficult to bring home the corpses.

“Due to the adverse situation, the concerned stakeholders of destination countries are seeking permission from the families of the deceased to bury the bodies of 144 migrant workers,” Rajan Shrestha, executive director at the Secretariat of the Foreign Employment Board, told THT.

He added that the 10 migrant workers who succumbed to COVID-19 were buried within 24 hours of their death in the destination countries for fear of spreading the virus. Six Nepali workers have died in the United Arab Emirates due to COVID-19, three in Qatar and one in Saudi Arabia.

Of the 144 Nepali migrant workers who passed away during the current lockdown not due to coronavirus, 35 were in Qatar, 34 in Saudi Arabia, 32 in the UAE, 29 in Malaysia, seven in Kuwait, two each in Bahrain and South Korea and one each in Seychelles, Turkey and Oman.

Meanwhile, the government has also decided to provide Rs 50,000 to the kin of each deceased for the final rites as a quick relief package after they give permission to bury the deceased in the respective destinations. But the families of the 144 migrant workers have ignored the request.

The Foreign Employment Board has repeatedly urged the concerned families to let the bodies be buried abroad. It had even issued a notice on Tuesday requesting a letter of consent for the funeral from the families who have lost their loved ones abroad.

The board stated that it decided to provide quick relief to families of deceased workers after a decision to this effect was taken by the labour ministry due to the ban on international flights.

International flights are banned in Nepal till May 31 to check the spread of COVID-19. Government figures show that prior to travel restrictions, two corpses were brought to Nepal on a daily basis.

Except those who have died of COVID-19, bodies of those who die abroad cannot be buried abroad without the consent of the family. It is not clear when the bodies will reach Nepal or whether the bodies will be buried in the destination countries.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 15, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.

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