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Think beyond short-term for migrant workers

My Republica, Nepal, 22 February 2021 - Instead of providing short term aids to returnee migrants, should not Nepal create opportunities for them here in the country so that they do not have to rely on low paying jobs in foreign lands?

The days were already hard for the migrant workers who were departing to foreign lands in pursuit of earning a living for their family back home. Covid-19 added more troubles to the migrant workers who were already vulnerable even at the normal times.Nepali migrant workers are among the hardest hit population section by the Covid-19 pandemic. Huge numbers of Nepali workers are in Gulf Cooperation Countries (GCC) and Malaysia.  While the country has no exact data on the number of Nepalis currently working in labor destination countries, for many years, officials and related stakeholders have been saying that more than 4.5 million Nepali people are working as migrant workers.

Amidst the pandemic, a large number of Nepali migrants in destination countries were left stranded without access to health care, food, accommodation, social protection and return to home facilities. Majority of them were left without job and those with jobs were compelled to work under risk of being infected. Tens of millions of migrant workers, forced to return home empty handed in the wake of Covid-19 pandemic after turning jobless in countries of destinations, face unemployment and poverty in their home countries.  Many companies in destination countries—where thousands of Nepalis were employed—were shut down. Most workers faced difficulties in returning after the end of service/ expiry of visa and residential permit in the year 2020 as international flights were suspended after the pandemic outbreak. This made migrant workers more vulnerable.

A number of humanitarian organizations designed various short term supports to assist returnee migrants struggling to acquire basic needs. But is short term assistance the ultimate way out? Surely it is not.



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