US seeks lift of ban on Nepali security guards in Afghanistan

Published On: July 15, 2016 07:13 AM NPT By: Kamal Pariyar

KATHMANDU, July 14: While the government has banned  Nepali security guards from working in Afghanistan, the United States of America has assured the authorities in Nepal about the security of guards working in that country.  

Nepal’s government had decided to bar Nepali security guards from working in the four war-torn countries of Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Iraq, following the recent Kabul bomb attack that left 13 Nepali security guards dead. 

A special team from the US, led by John L. Carwile, deputy chief of the US mission in Nepal, has met with Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, Foreign Minister Kamal Thapa, Labor Minister Dipak Bohara and the Parliamentary Committee on International Relations and Labor, and urged them to lift the ban as soon as possible. The team cited the complications that have arisen following the ban. The delegation was accompanied by representatives of the UK- based recruiting company that hires security guards from Nepal. 

More than 887 Nepali security guards work at US diplomatic missions in Afghanistan, according to the Ministry of Labor.

“The US delegation briefed government agencies on the security measures in place for the guards, the facilities provided to them and recruiting procedures, among other things,” said Labor Ministry spokesperson Govinda Mani Bhurtel.

“It was not a wise decision to impose the ban when the workers are  working there happily,” the spokesperson cited the US delegation as saying. They also assured bolstered security measures for guards working there and claimed that there was no discrimination between guards from Nepal and those from the US when it came to security measures. 

In response, the ministry told the US team that the government would take necessary steps after a fact-finding mission visits Afghanistan in the near future. The fact-finding mission will report on why Nepali security guards were targeted in Afghanistan, their current status, the existing security measures and the lapses. 

During an interaction with Prabhu Sah, chairman of the parliamentary committee, on Thursday, the delegation also stressed reviewing the existing security measures.

“They tried to convince the parliamentary committee that the recent incident in Afghanistan that killed 13 Nepali guards was a rare one,” Adhiraj Rai, section officer at the committee, said after the meeting held at Singha Durbar. Chairman Sah also assured them that the decisions would be reviewed if need be in future, according to committee officials. 

Tristram Perry, public affairs chief at the US embassy, confirmed the meeting with the authorities here and said, “Government of Nepal has asked for information about the Nepali security guards working in the US mission in Afghanistan.” Perry, however, added that he could provide details from Friday onward only. 
Earlier, the government had also decided to immediately hold talks with the Afghan government and diplomatic missions there to seek guarantees for the security of Nepali workers.  

Over 20,000 Nepalis are estimated to be working in Afghanistan, both legally and illegally, but records show that the governemnt has issued permits to over 8,889 Nepalis to work as security guards in Afghanistan in the past 10 years. 
After migrant workers on home leave from Afghanistan exerted pressure on the government to ease the ban on working in that country, the government had allowed them to return there at their own risk.

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