Over 4,000 migrant Nepali workers died abroad in three years

Published On: May 30, 2024 05:20 PM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, May 30: Nepali workers abroad are facing high risks and fatalities.

According to the data from the Foreign Employment Board, from the fiscal year 2020/21 to 2022/23, as many as 4,035 migrant Nepali workers have died while working abroad. During that period, there were also 870 cases of injuries and illnesses. Analyzing the mortality rate of the past three years, there has been a five percent increase from 2020/21 to 2021/22, and one percent decrease from 2021/22 to 2022/23.

Similarly, the rate of injuries and illnesses among workers was 18.50 percent in 2020/21, which increased to 31.95 percent in 2021/22 and further to 49.54 percent in 2022/23.

The annual report of the Office of the Auditor General shows that despite a decrease in the number of worker fatalities, there has been an increasing trend in the rate of injuries and illnesses.

Nepali workers employed abroad face various challenges and risks such as exposure to adverse weather conditions in the host country, physical strain from work, alcohol consumption, conflicts with fellow workers, family stress, lack of knowledge of local laws, operational errors in machinery, traffic accidents, injuries, workplace accidents, drowning, suffocation, burns, and other factors leading to death, injuries, and illnesses.

Out of a total 1,250 deaths this year, the mortality rate was highest in Malaysia i.e. 27.96 percent, followed by 26.36 percent in Saudi Arabia, 17.98 percent in the United Arab Emirates, 17.23 percent in Qatar, 6.04 percent in Kuwait and 4.43 percent in other countries. Deaths occurring during foreign employment of citizens who underwent medical examinations in their home country before going abroad for work can not be considered natural.

Considering that a higher number of deaths occur due to natural, unknown, and other causes, it is necessary to identify the actual reasons. It is essential to establish measures to reduce the mortality rate of workers by conducting studies on the health facilities of countries where deaths occur due to illness, implementation of awareness programs regarding traffic accidents in countries where deaths occur due to traffic accidents, and programs for psychological counseling to boost self-confidence. 

The Foreign Employment Board provides financial assistance in the case of the death of a worker employed abroad and in transferring the dead body to the home country for the final rites. This year, it has been reported that a total of Rs 20.858 million was spent on the management of such dead bodies.

Employers have highlighted concerns regarding the illegal provision of funds solely for the management of bodies of workers legally employed abroad, raising issues when a worker dies unlawfully. The involvement of foreign employment agencies, employers, and relevant authorities of destination countries has also been cited as contributing to situations where workers face illegal migration. Workers who are unlawfully present or deported are placed in safe shelters and provided with assistance.

In practical terms, when a worker dies unlawfully, the provision for managing the deceased's body is not enforced. It is necessary to arrange for the management of the deceased worker's body through studying and analyzing the causes of death due to illegal migration of the worker.

As per Rule 28 of the Foreign Employment Rules, 2008, if any worker employed abroad under any agreement dies due to any reason within the contract period, close relatives of the deceased worker are provided financial assistance ranging from Rs 300,000 initially from the Foreign Employment Welfare Fund, which increased to Rs 700,000 from 31 July, 2017.

As per the details obtained from the Foreign Employment Board, in the past five years, financial assistance totaling Rs 3.0398 billion has been provided to the families of 5,511 workers who died abroad, and Rs 438.472 million has been  provided to 15,876 injured and ill workers.


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