Nepalese migrant workers continue to seek jobs abroad even in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to government data.
Lack of job opportunities at home and inadequate government reintegration schemes have forced even those returning to Nepal due to the pandemic out, experts claim.
“Lack of jobs at home is forcing workers to choose the path of migration once again,” said Swarna Kumar Jha, a labor migration expert. “When they lost their jobs due to the pandemic and returned home, they had hoped to get work under the government’s reintegration programs,” he added. “But when they arrived, they didn’t know what to do,” reported the Kathmandu Post.
With the resumption of foreign employment, hundreds of Nepali migrant workers can be seen queuing up outside government offices to apply for work permits abroad.
During the month of Ashoj, the third month of the fiscal year alone, a total of 8,097 work permits were provided by the Foreign Office of Jobs, Tahachal, Kathmandu, and other Labor Offices in the provinces.
Between September 17 and October 16, as many as 7,676 men and 421 women were permitted to work abroad, according to government statistics.
“Those with valid visas and contracts of employment leave the country once again after obtaining work permits. The number of migrants on their annual leave is higher among those who are going abroad for work this time, “Matrika Sapkota, a section officer at the Tahachal office, told the Post.
According to Sapkota, about 1,400-1,500 work permits were given every day prior to the pandemic. Last year, a total of 18,771 Nepalese employees applied for work permits in the month of Ashoj. The number has now fallen to about 300 every day.
Of 5,422 employees, 4505 earned work permits under the re-entry category followed by 516 under the new entrant category and 401 under legalization from the Tahachal Office in Kathmandu last month. The re-entry group is for staff who want to go back to work after taking a break from work.
Labor migration came to a halt when the government stopped issuing labor permits. And then, we got calls on a daily basis when the services will restart. After the resumption of work permits, potential migrant workers have been pursuing work permits.
Nepal’s labor migration faced a complete shutdown after the government stopped issuing labor permits in mid-March in view of increasing Covid-19 cases in Nepal’s major labor destination countries. The government recently agreed to restart labor migration in part after a five-month hiatus.
“When work resumed after the lockdown, there were a large number of people visiting us looking for work permits. The number has slowed again due to the festive season, “said Sapkota. Recently, after five of its employees tested positive for Covid-19, Tahachal ‘s daily services were affected.
“They migrate again as countries have begun to open up and there are daily flights. The number could go up after the holiday season is over, “said Sapkota.
(Inputs from Kathmandu Post)