KATHMANDU, Sept 19: The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Nepal and Cyprus, with support from the Government of Cyprus and in coordination with Nepali authorities, organized the voluntary return of 63 Nepali nationals. The migrants landed at the Tribhuvan International airport on Saturday.
The mixed group of men and women were mainly students no longer able to pay college fees in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a press statement issued by the IOM in Kathmandu.
The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the national economy and human mobility as well as travel restrictions compelled many migrants to turn to IOM for daily subsistence and support to voluntarily return to their countries.
“We are glad to extend our support to Nepali migrants in need. An IOM Nepal team was present at the airport to assist them through immigration in coordination with the country’s COVID-19 Crisis Management Centre and other relevant authorities,” the statement quoted IOM Nepal Chief of Mission Lorena Lando as saying.
Prior to their departure, all returnees were tested for COVID-19. On flight day, IOM Cyprus staff members assisted the migrants with all airport procedures and one-time cash assistance was given to each as a contribution to their initial expenses upon arrival and immediate needs, chiefly onward travel to their home communities.
Nepal government received them and applied all necessary COVID-19 measures as applicable in the country. “Following the migrants’ registration with IOM to voluntarily return—and thanks to the cooperation with government authorities in Cyprus and Nepal — everyone was ready to help the stranded migrants to voluntarily return to their homes,” said Natasa Xenophontos Koudouna, Head of Office for IOM Cyprus.
During the flight, all passengers were required to wear masks and gloves. Upon arrival in Kathmandu, information material was distributed, explaining COVID-19 measures, reintegration support and how to contact IOM and the respective country offices.
IOM Nepal has been regularly assisting vulnerable Nepali migrants for their return and reintegration ever since IOM was established in the country in 2007.