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Nepalese Govt lacks data on returning migrant workers

22 October 2013 - ekantipur.com. Though the number of outbound migrant worker s shows a double-digit growth every year, concerned stakeholders are sill clueless on how many of the nearly three million people who have left the country for overseas jobs through formal channel in the past two decades have actually returned home.

KATHMANDU, OCT 20 - Though the number of outbound migrant worker s shows a double-digit growth every year, concerned stakeholders are sill clueless on how many of the nearly three million people who have left the country for overseas jobs through formal channel in the past two decades have actually returned home.

The government has not installed systematic data keeping mechanism at the arrival section of Immigration Office at the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) depriving policy makers from essential data to study the migratory trend of workers.

Though the Department of Immigration (DoI) takes admission of travelers entering Nepal via the TIA, the country’s only international airport, the record is neither ritually maintained nor updated. Migrant workers aside, the DoI lacks categorised information on those travelling under student and tourist visas.

“In many occasions the record of Nepalis is not separated from foreign nationals. Even the overall data we have of those entering the country in not veritable due to staffers’ negligence,” a DoI official said.

DoI officials blame inadequate human resource and lack of enhanced record keeping mechanism for its pitiable condition. They said there should be more staffers to maintain the entry system. “The current data keeping mechanism is archaic. It’s not possible to maintain classified data unless improved software is installed,” said DoI Spokesperson Kamal Bhattarai.

The dearth of reliable data has hit the policy makers the most. They are forced to formulate plans and policies on mere estimation of the workers who have taken work approval from the government to go to various labour destinations. Experts said the availability of arrival data would give clear picture on overall migratory trend of the workers.

Officials at the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) said updated and scientific record keeping at the immigration office could give them clear insight on overall number of migrant population and the portion of workers who travel through informal channels.

While official record shows around 450,000 individuals leave the country annually for overseas jobs in countries except India, it is estimated that the number of migrant worker s taking informal routes is almost the same. The trend of going through informal routes is particularly higher among female migrant worker s as the age bar on housemaids has created more hindrance than help for women to rely on formal channels.

DoFE Spokesperson Divash Acharya, said the stakeholders are dependent only on the record of out-bound workers who take acquire work permits to get overview of migratory trend. “Lack of arrival record has created numerous difficulties such as gathering exact information about the migrant population and formulating the plans and polices. There is an urgent need to begin scientific and systematic record keeping without any delay,” Acharya said. He said the DoFE has been constantly holding meetings with the DoI and other stakeholders to install proper software to modernise existing data keeping. Acharya said the DoFE is also seeking to deploy a separate team of its staffers at the immigration to gather data about workers.

“There are also the issues of budget, human and technical resources,” Acharya said, adding that his office and the line ministry are making efforts for installation of proper system. Although various stakeholders, including NGOs and TIA police, collect data of the migrant worker s, it is largely arbitrary and lacks credential.

Source: http://www.ekantipur.com/2013/10/20/top-story/govt-lacks-data-on-returning-migrant-workers/379554.html

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