KATHMANDU, June 19: The process of bringing back Nepali migrant workers’ dead bodies from abroad has started from Friday. A total of 23 dead bodies from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar were brought to Nepal on charter flights carried out as a part of the evacuation operation on the first day.
The repatriation of the dead bodies was halted because of the nationwide lockdown enforced by the government in order to contain the spread of COVID-19 in Nepal. Rajan Prasad Shrestha, executive director at Foreign Employment Board (FEB) said the process of bringing the dead bodies back to Nepal has started from today and will continue with the upcoming flights.
“We have asked for details of the deceased and their relationship with the relatives who will take the responsibility for the dead bodies,” he said, adding, “Dead bodies will be handed over at the airport to the relatives of the deceased who have come in contact.”
The FEB has asked the relatives to provide the address to transport the dead bodies. “The bodies will be transported to the desired point free of cost,” Shrestha told Republica Online. The board will transport all the dead bodies brought from different countries to the destinations as requested by the kin of the deceased.
Nepal had suspended both domestic and international flights to and from the country since the beginning of the lockdown. According to FEB, the COVID-19 outbreak and the suspension of flights had halted the repatriation of dead bodies. Only specific charter flights were carried out either to repatriate stranded people or transport medical equipment from China.
Similarly, five international flights carrying 494 passengers landed at Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA) on Friday while four flights departed from Kathmandu. According to TIA, a Himalayan Airlines aircraft brought 153 Nepalis from Saudi Arabia with one dead body, Jazeera Air brought 150 passengers with two dead bodies from Kuwait. Likewise, Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC) carried 148 stranded Nepalis and Qatar Airways carried 43 Nepalis with 20 dead bodies from the UAE and Qatar, respectively.
Meanwhile, two Qatar Airways aircraft and one aircraft each of Himalaya Airlines and Jazeera Airways departed from Nepal on the same day. A Neos Airlines aircraft is scheduled to leave Kathmandu with 92 passengers today and NAC will leave for Narita at 9:00 pm to bring stranded Nepalis from Japan. The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) in view of the operation of the airport had issued a guideline for the airlines, airports and ground service providers and operators during COVID-19. The guidance consists of aviation health safety regulation and provides an insight into the best practices that airports, airline operators should use for commercial and non-commercial transport.
CAAN has allowed limited flights to some specific sectors based on safety assessment to operate whereas it plans to gradually increase flight schedules based on the evaluation of the situation. The government started evacuating vulnerable Nepali citizens from abroad from June 11 and will continue the operation till June 25.