KATHMANDU, May 17: Lawmakers have said that the government could not introduce concrete plans for the repatriation of Nepalis who have been left stranded in various parts of the world. They further blamed the government for being indifferent to taking any initiative to bring those Nepalis back to the country who are left stranded after their host countries imposed lockdowns to battle the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Speaking during a meeting of the International Relations Committee under the House of Representatives (HoR) earlier on Sunday, the MPs came down heavily upon the government for being irresponsible toward Nepalis stranded in alien lands. They also criticised the government for not mobilizing the amount collected in funds set up for the prevention, control and treatment of COVID-19.
Speaking during the meeting, a senior leader of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, Madhav Kumar Nepal said that management of Nepalis who are in trouble in foreign lands and those who want to return home is a challenging job. “I want this committee to give directives to the government in this regard after garnering details on it,” Nepal, who is also a former prime minister, said. He was of the view that Nepalis abroad should be classified into three categories -- those who are in deep trouble, those who don’t want to come to Nepal despite problems and those who are already at the Nepal-India border -- and rescue them on priority basis. He asked whether the government is well informed about its citizens abroad.
Prakash Man Singh, a lawmaker representing the main opposition Nepali Congress, said that those Nepalis who are already at the Nepal-India borders should be allowed to enter Nepal after having them tested for the novel coronavirus disease. He also suggested to the government to provide both the authority and budget to the local units so that they can accomplish the task of prevention and control of this global pandemic. He blasted the government for “only instructing the local units without giving them sufficient budget to materialize those instructions.”
Expressing dissatisfaction over not spending the amount collected in the COVID-19 fund, Singh suggested to the government to mobilize that money through the local governments. “These days, the people’s representatives at the local levels say that they have already run out of budget while distributing the first phase of relief packages. Why can't the government spend the amount which is especially collected for the purpose of fighting against COVID-19?”
Another NC lawmaker Pushpa Bhusal said that it is not good to tell the Nepalis to remain on foreign lands at this time of emergency while they used to welcome the country during the time of elections. “Nepalis are pleading for repatriation from various countries including the Gulf nation of Kuwait. Has this government noticed this?” questioned Bhusal adding that diplomats and diplomatic missions abroad should work on this.
Speaking on the occasion, MP Divya Mani Rajbhandari said that the government is proving its incompetence by failing to rescue the Nepalis stranded abroad although they are the source of the remittance which is the backbone of the country’s economy. “It’s unfortunate to have such a government which can’t stand for its citizens who are in trouble in alien lands,” said Rajbhandari.
NCP lawmaker Bhim Rawal came up with six ways out for the rescue of those Nepalis who have been left stranded in foreign countries. Those include clear policy on the part of government, classifying and repatriating, health checkups and quarantine facilities, collecting the details about those who can return home on their own expenses and those who are left penniless and providing special health services to those who are stuck at the Nepal-India border and allowing them to enter Nepal. Similarly, he also suggested to the government to expedite talks with the countries through diplomatic channels where there are Nepalis and send Nepal’s proposals, making necessary arrangements of lodging, food and health services to Nepalis until they return to Nepal and forming a separate body to regularly monitor the situation of Nepalis abroad. “At this time, Nepalis abroad don’t have any government body to lodge their complaints,” said Rawal, adding that Nepalis have been left stranded in foreign countries as the mechanisms under the foreign ministry rarely respond to their sufferings.
Surendra Kumar Karki, also speaking during the meeting, urged the committee to instruct the government in this regard as the latter has failed to take initiatives to bring back its citizens from abroad. He opined that the committee should instruct the government to make correspondence with those countries for the COVID-19 tests of Nepalis and repatriate them on a priority basis after classifying them. “At the same time, quarantine facilities should be expanded inside the country, link the hospitals and closely monitor them,” he said.
The members of the committee have sought the solid plans of the government at a time when Nepalis abroad are reported to be in deep trouble including poor provision of food and shelter and also inhumane treatment