June 22: The number of Nepali migrant workers leaving for foreign employment has witnessed a sharp decline due to the second wave of COVID-19 pandemic. The number of Nepalis going abroad for foreign employment declined significantly due to the border closure and prohibitory order imposed to contain the second wave of coronavirus.
During the first wave of the pandemic as well, the number of Nepali workers going for foreign employment had witnessed a sharp decline. The government had even stopped issuing labor permits from March 13 to October 5, 2020. After the government resumed issuing labor permits, the number of workers going for foreign employment had increased gradually. Following the second wave of coronavirus, the number of migrant workers going for foreign employment has dropped again.
According to the Department of Foreign Employment, altogether 3,152 Nepalis went for foreign employment in August 2020. Since then, the number of workers going abroad for employment had been gradually increasing. But since May, the number of Nepali workers migrating for foreign jobs has gone down.
According to the department, a total of 24,363 Nepali workers went to the Gulf countries for foreign employment in April but only 4,086 workers went for foreign employment in May.
The government had imposed restrictions on April 29 to control the second wave of coronavirus. It had also suspended international flights from May 6, which resulted in a decline in the number of Nepali nationals leaving for foreign jobs.
Mahendra Nath Bhattarai, director of the department, said that the number of workers going for foreign employment decreased after the shutdown of international flights. "Currently, there are only two international flights a week. Some workers are leaving through those regular flights while some workers have also left through chartered flights,” he said, “Overall, the second wave of coronavirus has affected the foreign employment.”
A preliminary study conducted by the Federation of Foreign Employment Entrepreneurs found that around 70,000 migrant workers have been deprived of leaving for the Gulf countries due to the suspension of international flights. Sujita Shrestha, general secretary of the Federation, said workers who had returned on holiday and new visa recipients have been unable to go abroad for employment.
According to Shrestha, 25,000 workers have been deprived from going to Saudi Arabia, 30,000 to Qatar, 10,000 to Cyprus, 1,500 to Bahrain and 1,500 to Oman.