Reintegration of returnee migrant workers stressed

Kathmandu, August 15

The National Human Rights Commission has urged the Government of Nepal to formulate and implement effective policies and programmes for reintegration of returnee migrant workers into their communities as per their skills and expertise.

A report on ‘Human Rights Situation of Nepali Migrant Workers amid COVID-19 Pandemic’ released by the rights body earlier this week said that thousands of Nepali migrant workers had been rescued and many more were wishing to return home soon after they were rendered jobless in destination countries.

“In this context, it is the need of the Government of Nepal to formulate and implement policies and programmes for getting them engaged in jobs within the country through wage-employment or self-employment, in commensurate with their skills and expertise to ensure their integration into the communities where they live. There should be effective coordination among the federal, provincial and local governments towards that end,” reads the report.

Nepali migrant workers across the world, primarily in the Gulf countries, Malaysia and India, have experienced diverse impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, due to both the precarious nature of their jobs and unfavourable living conditions there. Unprecedented reverse migration has made it necessary for the government to guarantee their social and economic reintegration in a proper manner.

The rights body also warned that the returnee migrant workers could face stigmatisation, discrimination, exclusion and harassment in their communities, and urged the government to make the community-level agencies responsible for their protection.

“The government is also supposed to provide psycho-social counselling to the returnee migrant workers, who have been mentally disturbed in foreign countries during the COVID-19 crisis,” reads the report.

The NHRC recommended the government to come up with special economic package and rehabilitation programme for the returnee migrant workers, who lost their job abroad and were not able to repay the loans they owed to various banks or persons.

The rights body has also suggested the government to make inter-ministry coordination more effective for protection of human rights and labour rights of returnee migrant workers, in addition to their rehabilitation and reintegration through short-term, mid-term and long-term policies and programmes.

Many Nepali migrant workers abroad have been considering returning to Nepal, while many seem to be in conflict whether they should return or not due to uncertainties of employment prospects and the increasing cases of COVID-19 infection in Nepal. They are also concerned about post-return plans.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on August 16, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.