Migration, security & dignity

Over 3.5 million labour permits were issued by the Government of Nepal in the decade 2007-2017. Add to this the vast number of Nepalis who have opted for irregular migration or migrated to India unrecorded due to the open border between the two countries and the picture is one of outward migration that is now unprecedented in scale and reach.

But we have to ask ourselves, at what cost? Has enough attention been paid to the stress that migrants suffer while pursuing their dreams? Does the money fully compensate for the emptiness that many people feel while away from their loved ones? Migrants who opt for irregular migration often, often through a lack of information, have worse things to worry about than homesickness. Some are trapped by human traffickers or smugglers, others can find themselves in a variety of life-threatening situations.

Whether migration is due to a lack of jobs at home or better pay abroad, migration is now regarded as inevitable in today’s world. Nearly 260 million people are international migrants and over 40 per cent of them are from Asia. Migration has helped improve people’s lives in both origin and destination countries and has offered opportunities for millions of people worldwide to lead safe and meaningful lives abroad. As such it is increasingly seen as a high-priority policy issue by governments worldwide.

This interest has resulted in the inter-governmental negotiations leading to the adoption by 163 countries, including Nepal, of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) in Marrakesh earlier this month.

The GCM, which is a non-binding document that complements the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for SDG, is the first attempt by the international community to address all aspects of international migration, while recognizing national sovereignty and the need for better coordination between source, transit and destination countries.

Among its objectives, the GCM calls for skills development and mutual recognition of skills; accurate and timely information for migrants and aspirant migrants about formal migration channels; better international labour market information; faster and cheaper transfer of remittances; and better protection and assistance for migrants abroad.

Major labour sending countries like Nepal also hope that the GCM will foster dialogue and common understanding on safety and rights of migrants with countries of transit and destination, as they also benefit from migration.