Coronavirus: Nepal Requests Quarantine for Gulf State Workers

  • Nepal's Ambassador to Bahrain said that the embassy was going to issue information on Wednesday to collect the details of those who lost their jobs due to COVID-19.
  • Most of the nearly 4 million workers who have gone abroad from Nepal with labor permits are in the Gulf countries.
  • Last year, Nepal remitted Rs 879 billion from remittances sent by workers.

Nepal’s ambassadors to the Gulf countries have sent a report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requesting quarantine arrangements for workers who must return to Nepal as a matter of urgency. Hundreds of Nepalis working in those countries may have lost their jobs or facilities during the crisis caused by the coronavirus.

The GDP of Nepal is heavily dependent on remittances (9.1%) of foreign workers. Subsequently, economic development in social services and infrastructure in Nepal has not made dramatic progress.

In a video conference between them this week, it was concluded that Nepali workers, especially those dependent on small businesses, could be more affected. Experts say the latest crisis will have a direct impact on the Gulf economy and industry.

Arrange for a Quarantine

Nepal’s Ambassador to Bahrain, Padam Sundas, said that the embassy was going to issue information on Wednesday to collect the details of those who lost their jobs due to COVID-19. “Small companies have all closed down. The hotel business has collapsed. Small businesses such as beauty parlors have also closed down. We estimate that as many as 3,000 people could lose their jobs,” he said.

He noted that the ambassador of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) had sent a report to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs this week to arrange quarantine for the repatriation of those in distress to Nepal.

“From the video conferencing of the Nepali ambassadors of the GCC member countries, we have sent a report that the quarantine system for those who need to be sent to Nepal should be arranged as soon as possible and based on that we will send people who are in an emergency.”

The Foreign Ministry has not yet commented on the report, which was sent jointly by ambassadors on Tuesday.

Attention to Bring Back Workers

Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), also known as 2019-nCoV acute respiratory disease (2019-nCoV ARD), and novel coronavirus pneumonia (NCP) is a viral respiratory disease caused by the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). It was first detected during the 2019–20 Wuhan coronavirus outbreak.

Most of the nearly 4 million workers who have gone abroad from Nepal with labor permits are in the Gulf countries. A significant number of illegal Nepali workers are also said to be in those countries. According to a report released by the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security in 2020, 87.8 percent of Nepali workers went to Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Oman for employment last year.

Last year, Nepal remitted Rs 879 billion from remittances sent by workers. There have been reports recently that some Gulf countries have requested sending countries to repatriate their citizens who have lost their jobs or been forced to take unpaid leave due to the coronavirus crisis. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has warned that it will review labor agreements with countries that refuse to repatriate its citizens, Reuters reported.

There are 35,000 workers working in Bahrain with labor permits. However, Ambassador Sundas said that there was no message from the government regarding the intention to take back the workers. Ambassador Sundas said that, although some Nepalis have lost their jobs, the embassy, ​​the Non-Resident Nepali Association, and other Nepali affiliated organizations are helping them.

Durga Prasad Bhandari, Nepal’s ambassador to Kuwait, another Gulf country, said some Nepalis had lost their jobs and wanted to return home after the coronavirus crisis. He said that the government had given the illegal workers a month of April to return home voluntarily and some Nepali workers had started the process. According to him, the Kuwaiti government has informed that about 7,000 Nepalis are living illegally and about 2,000 Nepalis have contacted the embassy to expedite the process of returning home.

The illegal workers will not be able to bear the cost of the trip, will not have to pay the fine, and will be able to return to employment depending on the nature of the offense.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.

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