This week (8 July) a virtual consultation meeting of stakeholders working in the field of Nepali migration acknowledged that immediate actions are required to address socio-economic recovery needs as well as tackle the stigma and concerns of Nepali migrants and their families due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In the meeting hosted by International Organization Migration (IOM), a Nepali woman migrant recently repatriated from Dubai shared how she and her friends were caught up by COVID-related travel restrictions at the time they were planning to fly back home after having lost their jobs. They were paid much lower than what was promised and had to do some other work than what was said, she added.
Among over 16,000 confirmed COVID-infected cases of Nepal as of 8 July, majority of them are returnee migrants. Nepal saw a sharp increase in number of confirmed cases as neighbouring India eased its lockdown effective 1 June and Government of Nepal started repatriation of Nepalese from abroad from early June.
From the first confirmed case, there have been significant media reports and testimonies from returnee migrants through social media that they have been ill-treated and harassed both by media and general public tagging them as ‘spreaders’ of COVID-19 virus to Nepal.
Sharing that the Ministry initiated COVID-response preparedness by mobilizing the Protection Cluster even before the pandemic had hit the country, Joint Secretary Manamaya Pangeni from Ministry of Women, Children and Senior Citizens condemned the insensitive media reporting with regards to vulnerable women returnee migrants.
According to various sources, around 450,000 Nepali migrants are projected to lose their jobs and around 125,000 migrants are already in need of immediate assistance in host countries with little or no support and are unable to support their families at home. And, with hundreds of thousand Nepalis at home are also losing their jobs and 500,000 Nepali youths entering job market every year, Nepal’s unemployed population is set to be unprecedented.
“The consultation is part of a process to develop the socio-economic response and recovery framework being developed by United Nations in Nepal to better understand the challenges and way forward of COVID-19 impacts over the next 12 – 18 months,” said Lorena Lando, IOM Nepal Chief of Mission inaugurating the event.
“Following the lead of the UN Secretary-General, the UN country teams across the world will be developing the frameworks in consultation with government agencies, civil society, most vulnerable groups, academia, private sector, research institutes and so on,” she added.
IOM has also initiated face-to-face interview screening of vulnerable returnee women migrant workers for need and risk assessment with the aim of mitigating immediate protection concerns and coming up with suitable recommendations.
Migrants – both returnees as well as those currently abroad, government agencies, civil society organizations, development partners and UN were among the attendees in this virtual consultation.
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