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Strong rescue mechanism sought for migrant workers

29 April 2013 - About two million Nepalis work in the Gulf region and nearly three per cent seek help every year. Migrant rights activists have sought a strong mechanism to rescue stranded migrant workers in destination countries or countries of origin.

KATHMANDU: Migrant rights activists have sought a strong mechanism to rescue stranded migrant workers in destination countries or countries of origin. 

A permanent rescue mechanism is essential to rescue stranded Nepali workers, said an activist from Pourakhi Bijaya Rai Shrestha. 

Temporary or case-based mechanism will not work when the job destinations are not secure, she said referring to Gulf countries — Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman. “More than two dozen women are taking shelter at diplomatic missions situated in the destination countries. Therefore, a temporary mechanism will not be effective in rescuing them,” Shrestha said. 

About two million Nepalis are working in the Gulf region and nearly three per cent seek help every year, according to an estimate. However, the government does not have any specified mechanism or agency to assist them. 

Therefore, the situation of runaway or domestic workers is horrible in Gulf countries, said former labour attaché of Saudi Arabia Chandeshwor Acharya. “I helped rescue 340 migrants in 2012 with great difficulty,” he said. He urged for a rescue mechanism in the country in close coordination with labour attachés appointed in destination countries. 

The government has appointed six labour attachés in Qatar, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, South Korea and Malaysia. 

The labour attachés do not have close coordination with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

The government must provide adequate resources for the mechanism and labour attachés to work smoothly. “We do not need more budget to manage the crisis,” said former director at the Department of Foreign Employment Surya Prasad Bhandari. About Rs 150 million will be enough for a year under normal conditions, he added. 

The government had rescued about 1,900 Nepalis from Libya two years back with help from the International Organisation for Migration (IOM). The government spent about Rs 41 million for the rescue mission. Similarly, over two dozen Nepalis were rescued from Madagascar last year with the help of IOM. 

For every rescue mission we have been depending on International Organisation for Migration which is not good for the country. The country, which depends on remittance, must have its own mechanism to deal with the issue, said president of Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee — a non-governmental organisation dedicated to rescue work — Mahendra Pandey. 

A rescue mechanism under the Ministry of Labour and Employment is a must for the country that has millions of migrant workers abroad. 

According to Pandey, the rescue mechanism should have representation of first-class officers from the labour, foreign and home ministries. 

Labour attachés and diplomatic missions — embassies and consulates — must play a facilitator’s role for it, he said, adding that without a specified and dedicated rescue mechanism the grievances of Nepali migrant workers will not be addressed. 

Currently, about 1,000 Nepalis, including more than 200 women migrant workers in different destination countries want to be rescued. Women working as housemaids are more prone to exploitation, violence and abuse and about 40-50 women migrants seek help every week.

Source: http://www.thehimalayantimes.com/fullNews.php?headline=Strong+rescue+mechanism+sought+for+migrant+workers+&NewsID=374241

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