Take additional measures to stop Nepali nationals in warzones

Published On: January 13, 2024 07:15 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

In yet another tragic news coming from Russia, another Nepali national, who was fighting alongside the Russian army in Ukraine, was killed.  The deceased has been identified as Sonu Sunar of Kathebar of Pyuthan Municipality-4. Sunar’s friend, who was injured in the war, informed the family back home about the tragic news. It is learnt that Sunar, who was working in Qatar, had left for Russia a few months ago in the hope of making a lucrative income. The death of Sunar puts the death toll of Nepalis serving in the Russian army at 11 although the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has so far confirmed only ten casualties. The growing number of deaths highlights the gravity of the situation as unscrupulous agents taking Nepali nationals to the warzones are active not only in Nepal but also in various labor destinations in the Gulf region. Nepali migrant workers working in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates are also lured into joining the Russian army. This necessitates the government to take additional measures including busting such rackets in various labor destinations, mainly in the Gulf region, in coordination with the local authorities.

Back home, police have intensified operations against the racket involved in sending Nepali youths to the Russian army. While nearly a dozen individuals sending youths to Russia have been arrested, senior police officials said they are intensifying the operation to arrest more such individuals sending Nepali to the warzones. In addition to this, the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) recently decided not to issue work permits to Nepali nationals aspiring to work in war-torn Russia and Ukraine.  The government body took the measure amid an increasing number of Nepali nationals joining the Russian army illegally. Furthermore, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has repeatedly urged Russia not to recruit Nepali citizens in its military rank and file and to send back any Nepali citizens who are currently serving in the army.  The foreign ministry has also sought information from Russia about the number of Nepalis who have joined the Russian army, in addition to the injured ones and their condition. As a part of its efforts to discourage Nepali youths going to Russia and joining its armed forces, the foreign ministry has urged all Nepalis to compulsorily receive no objection certificates (NOC) from the Nepali embassies and consulates in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain if they are traveling to Russia via those countries. Prior to this, the NOC was issued only from the Consular Service Department under the Foreign Ministry for those going to Russia for other reasons except for government assignment and for study under Russian government’s scholarship and businesses.

Nepal has no policy of sending its nationals to the Russian army. Earlier on August 1, the government had officially issued a notice stating that the government has no policy of approving the recruitment of any Nepali citizens in foreign military forces except in the national army of a few friendly nations in accordance with the long-standing agreement.  The foreign ministry also urged Nepalis not to get recruited in the military service of the war-ravaged nations on the basis of false information or other's temptation. Nepali side has already communicated with the Russian authorities through diplomatic channels to not recruit Nepali youths in its army and also provide the details of those already enlisted in the Russian army. Yet, the Russian side has reportedly not responded to Nepal's request and it appears that it is continuing to recruit Nepali nationals in its army. This situation warrants urgent measures to stop Nepali youths from going to Russia. While administrative measures including busting the racket involved in sending Nepali youths to the warzone and making it mandatory to receive NOC to travel to Russia are steps in the right direction, these measures alone do not seem to have deterred Nepali youths from going to Russia and joining the army. The government authorities concerned must create awareness among youths through factual information that their life is critically at risk while going to the war zone. As a country that Nepal enjoys decade-long friendship, Russian authorities also must positively respond to the request of Nepal to stop recruiting its nationals in its army. It is sad to note that the Russian side has declined to even provide the details of Nepali nationals in its army, let alone stopping the recruitment of Nepali citizens in its defense force. Nepal, which advocates resolving the conflict through peaceful means, does not want to be a party to the conflict. We look forward to seeing Russia respecting Nepal’s stance and reciprocate accordingly.


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