Chandan Kumar Mandal, The Kathmandu Post, 28 April 2018
A total of 5,892 Nepalis—5,765 male and 127 female—have lost their lives working in foreign countries in the past nine years, revealing a grim picture of the country’s foreign employment scenario.
These deaths have been reported from at least 28 destination countries where Nepalis have been working as migrants, according to a government report released on Friday.
The ‘Labour Migration for Employment—A Status Report for Nepal: 2015/16-2016/2017’ shows that the highest number of Nepalis died in Malaysia. A total of 2,154 Nepalis died in Malaysia, followed by Saudi Arabia (1,638), Qatar (1,203), the United Arab Emirates (427) and Kuwait (186). Other countries with significant numbers of fatalities include Bahrain (77), Republic of Korea (77), Oman (47), Lebanon (20), and Afghanistan (19). These are among the most sought-after job destinations among Nepali workers. From the other 18 countries, 0.74 percent of the deaths were reported. Nepalis received work permits for 153 countries in the nine-year period.
The lowest numbers of migrant deaths were recorded in the fiscal year 2008/09 when 90 Nepalis including three females had lost their lives. The highest number of deaths—1,006—was reported in FY 2014/15.
The number of deaths, which spiked in FY 2014/15, came down slightly in the last two fiscals, said Dipendra Bikram Thapa, former government secretary and senior consultant for the study.
The report shows 1,351 deaths as “natural”. Another significant count is 1,144 deaths from “cardiac arrest”. The cause of 917 deaths was categorised as “other” or “unidentified”.
Another major cause of Nepalis dying during foreign employment has been traffic accidents--798 fatalities.
“To understand further, the causes of the migrant worker’s death, an in-depth investigation of the autopsies and medical records in the destination countries would require,” suggests the report.
Other 650 and 51 deaths were reported as “suicide” and “murder”, respectively, states the report, the third since it was first published in 2014/15.
Speaking at the report launching event, Nandita Baruah, the Asia Foundation’s deputy country representative in Nepal, said safety of migrant workers was the responsibility of both labour supplier and host countries.
“Migration itself is not good or bad. The challenge is how we govern the migration for employment. The security of migrant workers is not only the responsibility of countries which send its workers, but also of those which receive and utilise the labour force,” added Baruah.
The report was jointly prepared by the Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Security, with support from IOM, the UN Migration Agency, the International Labour Organization and the Asia Foundation.
Speaking at the event, Labour Minister Gokarna Bista said, “The report identifies major areas where policy intervention and government’s attention is required. This document will be useful in guiding our programmes and policies for overall reform in the sector.
Migrant deaths abroad in past nine years
Saudi Arabia 1,638