Dead illegal workers big headache for Nepali missions
KOSH RAJ KOIRALA
KATHMANDU, July 11: Many were taken aback when they recently learnt that one Mohan Bahadur Basnet family of Dallu, Kathmandu, knew about the death of their only son, Ganesh, three and half years after he was murdered in the UAE.
Though this particular incident is unusual one, it is not a rare case given the increasing tendency among Nepali migrants workers of quitting the original employer company for relatively better salary, according to government officials dealing with such cases.
Foreign Ministry officials, who have experience working in diplomatic missions in various Gulf countries, say many cases of death of Nepali workers go unnoticed if the victims´ status is illegal. Chances are very minimal for such incidents to come to the government´s notice unless their fellow workers inform local Nepali embassy about the deaths. The workers become "undocumented/illegal" if they choose to change their employer company.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Arjun Bahadur Thapa, who previously served as Nepali ambassador to UAE, said there is a tendency among many Nepali workers of leaving the original employer for a better job. “The new companies they join illegally do not normally have details about such workers,” he said.
The problem has gone from bad to worse, according to officials, as many companies choose to employ ´illegal´ workers for they do not have to pay for insurance and other perks and facilities. Though it appears to them that their salary is relatively higher in the new company, the workers remain stand to lose.
Officials said the embassies face huge difficulties to send home the bodies of such illegal workers as their employers normally do not provide necessary documents to facilitate the process. And the legal process for sending home the body can take months.
Though it is relatively easy in case of documented workers, the poorly-staffed Nepali missions are finding it hard to facilitate the process of sending the bodies back home with the number of deaths of Nepali workers increasing in various Gulf countries.
According to figures provided by Nepali missions, altogether 254 Nepali workers died in Saudi Arabia alone and 70 others in the UAE in 2068 BS (mid-April 2011 to mid-April 2012). Likewise, 123 Nepali workers died in Malaysia in the year 2012. The death of Nepali workers in Bahrain, Oman, South Korea and Israel in the year 2068 BS stood at 11, 10, 9 and 3 respectively.
The chief of consular section at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Dilip Paudel, said road accidents, industrial accidents, suicide and chronic diseases account for the most number of deaths of Nepali workers. Many workers suffering from chronic diseases such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, gastritis and heart-related diseases are often found dying in their sleep.
Officials said cases of suicide by Nepali workers in Gulf countries is also on the rise. “Many of those committing suicide are found suffering from family breakdown, frustration at work and loans taken at high interest back home,” said Thapa. “Many others die as they work in high temperatures during day and sleep in the freezing cold in air-conditioned rooms at night.”