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Fewer Nepalis apply for jobs as tensions flare in the Gulf

  • qatar work permit
- CHANDAN KUMAR MANDAL, Kathmandu

Jul 10, 2017-The number of aspiring Nepali migrants seeking work permit for Qatar continues to drop as the Gulf crisis deepens.

Tensions in the Middle East continue unabated since a group of Arab nations led by Saudi Arabia decided on June 5 to cut off road and sea links with gas-rich Qatar, the number of Nepali workers applying for work permit has plummeted, said the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE). 

According to Information Officer at the DoFE Mohan Adhikari, the number has decreased by nearly 25 percent since the diplomatic row began in the region—one of the most popular labour hubs for Nepali migrant workers.

“We have witnessed a drop in numbers of people applying for work permit since tension flared in the Gulf,” said Adhikari, adding that around 700-800 people used to apply for work permit for Qatar every day.

The number which had dropped in the first week of the Gulf crisis has not gone up, which may is largely due to the ongoing differences between Arab nations, speculates Raghuraj Kafle, executive director at Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB).

It was expected to go up after Ramadan festival, a low season for workers opting Gulf for employment.  

“There has been a substantial drop in the number of people seeking work permits. This indicates fewer people are going to Qatar as compared to the past months,” said Kafle. 

The protracted row between Qatar and a group of Arab countries led by Saudi Arabia has raised grave concern over the security and future of Nepali migrants workers in Qatar, which hosts more than 400,000 Nepalis. 

Concerned authorities say that unwanted fear about the future of Nepalis in Arab countries was due largely to the over concentration of Nepali migrant workers in one particular region. 

“The panic was the result of our over reliance on one specific labour market. We can’t imagine what would be the situation if the region stops accepting our workers,” added Kafle, who said the present situation could have been avoided had the country only diversified the labour market options. 

“We are worried about workers in the regions. It would have never have happened if we had looked for other countries too. However, this is the high time that we thought seriously over this issue,” said Kafle.

At present, Nepalis can apply for work permit in nearly 170 countries. However, countries like Malaysia and members of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) that also includes countries affected by the ongoing crisis. 

According to the “Labour Migration for Employment: A Status Report for Nepal” released by the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE), Malaysia and the GCC countries host 85 percent of all the Nepali migrant workers. 

Since 2008/09, a total of 2,723,587 work permits have been issued, of which 33.3 percent was for Malaysia, followed by Qatar (19 percent), Saudi Arabia (18.9 percent), United Arab Emirates 9.8 (percent), Kuwait (2.5 percent), Bahrain (0.9 percent), among others, the reports says. 

The recruiting agencies, along with the government authorities, have also admitted drop in new labour demands in recent times. 

Adhikari said recruiting agencies should fulfil their quota of migrant labours for over three years once the demand is approved by the government, so the current batch of people who are heading to Qatar must be from the previous demands. 

Kafle, however, suggests that the authorities should utilise this crisis as an opportunity.

“This situation indicates that we need to review at policy level and explore other options for sending our labour. This is also a chance for those overstaying workers to have their employment contracts extended,” said Kafle. 

Meanwhile, the Labour Ministry has sent a team for Qatar to assess the situation of Nepali workers.

Published: 10-07-2017 09:09

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