Experts suggest reviewing country’s immigration policy

KATHMANDU: Concerned stakeholders have suggested the government to review the immigration policy of the country.

Researchers, scholars and organizations studying Nepal’s immigration policy have suggested for a review in the context of COVID-19 during a virtual conference held on Friday. They also urged the government to draft a roadmap for the country’s immigration policy by considering the situation created by the coronavirus as an opportunity. They also urged for appropriate steps instantly to make the immigration procedure safe, systematic and reliable.

In the webinar organized jointly by four organizations including Nepal Policy Institute, Mohan Krishna Shrestha, former ambassador to France and chairman of the Center for Diplomacy and Development (CDD) said that migrant workers can be protected only by strictly adhering to the government’s policies and rules. He said that the state should make the recruitment agencies accountable to protect the interests of migrant workers.

Rajan Prasad Shrestha, executive director at the Foreign Employment Board (FEB), informed that the country has a plan to make Nepalis returning from abroad get engaged in agriculture, development and other projects by utilizing their skills and experience. He also urged the foreign companies to help in developing the plans and policies related to immigration.

Revealing the result of the recently conducted study by Nepal Policy Institute (NPI), Khagendra Dhakal, chairman of the institute, said about 70 percent of workers who return are unaware about what the government has planned for them. Stating that Nepal has not been able to link immigration with national development, he mentioned that he expected to see immigration being utilized as a positive tool for national development.

Immigration should be a matter of choice rather than compulsion for Nepalis to earn a livelihood, said Dhakal. Citing that migrant workers were being exploited at every stage of the immigrant cycle, he reasoned that such exploitation was due to lack of knowledge about the foreign employment process.

Sociologist Dr Mina Poudel, who has studied extensively about Nepali immigration, said that the concept of regarding Nepali workers returning to the country due to the coronavirus as a burden is wrong. Stating that immigration is a global, humanitarian, social and development process, she said the Nepalis who have returned home after the outbreak of COVID-19 will go abroad again in search of work after a vaccine has been developed. She said one should not forget about governance practices related to immigration while talking about the problems of migrants.

Dr Poudel suggested that migrant workers need to be aware of the dangers of human trafficking and enslavement.

Dr Jeevan Raj Sharma, a researcher at the University of Edinburgh in the UK, said Nepal’s immigration policy is contradictory. “On the one hand, we want to create jobs within the country and on the other we are signing labor agreements with many countries. We are happy to supply cheap labor. But we must not forget that when they return due to old age, illness or death, the cost is being borne by the state, the community and the family,” he stated.

During the event, Sapana Basyal, who is working for the welfare of Nepali migrant workers in Malaysia, and Qatar-based writer Mohammad Ramzan Ali Mian highlighted the situation of Nepali migrant workers in the respective destinations.

Different concerned organizations and individuals from USA, Europe, Australia and Asia had participated in the event.

Fiscal Nepal |
Monday October 12, 2020, 09:19:36 AM |

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