KATHMANDU, August 5: The bodies of 24 Nepalis who died in Malaysia during employment were brought to Nepal a week ago. The bodies had been stranded in Malaysia for some time due to the limited regular flights following the COVID-19 pandemic. The Foreign Employment Board has stated that the bodies were brought after a wide body aircraft was sent for the purpose.
There are other bodies waiting to be brought back home from Malaysia. According to the board, at least 25 bodies are yet to be brought to Nepal from Malaysia.
In countries like Malaysia, young people who have gone for employment are dying on a daily basis. Measures have not been taken to ensure the safety of the youths who have reached various destinations for employment after getting health certificates from Nepal.
Secure foreign employment plans are limited to speeches. According to the board, Rs 634.09 million has been distributed to the families of 1,242 people who died in different countries in fiscal year 2020/21. Similarly, insurance companies have provided more than Rs 1.15 billion to the relatives of the deceased. The board provides financial assistance of Rs 700,000 per family in case of death of a person who has gone for foreign employment with a labor permit. In addition, insurance companies provide Rs 1.4 million to 1.5 million per family to those who have a term life insurance. According to the rule, one cannot go for foreign employment without term life insurance.
If death is confirmed due to 15 different types of (specified) serious diseases, the board will provide additional Rs 500,000. Not only this, in case of death of a person who has gone for foreign employment, the board has been bearing the financial responsibility of bringing the body home.
Similarly, the board has been providing tuition fees up to grade 12 to the children of those who died in the course of foreign employment. According to the staff of the board, if the amount given to the family of the person who dies in the course of foreign employment (including insurance) is added, it will cost around two billion rupees a year.
Even though the country suffers a huge loss of life and property every year in the course of foreign employment, no solution has been found so far to make foreign employment secure.
The employer companies are responsible for transporting the dead bodies of the deceased workers to the destination countries. But the government has failed to put pressure on them.
Executive Director of the Foreign Employment Board Rajan Prasad Shrestha said that it is necessary to teach skills to those going abroad and make pre-departure orientation training effective to make foreign employment secure. "Apart from this, the social security of Nepali workers in the destination country can be made safe by reducing overstay," he said. He estimates that the problem may be alleviated now that an agreement was reached with Malaysia some time ago for Nepali workers to join the social security scheme.
Som Luitel, an adviser to the People's Forum for Human Rights, which has been providing free legal aid to those in need of foreign employment, said it was important to raise awareness before leaving to make their employment experience secure. "If we can teach them how to stay healthy and follow traffic rules before leaving for work, a lot of damage can be avoided," he said. He cited the example of the Philippines deploying staff to the destination countries to reduce problems for its nationals.