Govt lifts ban on Nepalis working in Afghanistan

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Oct 17, 2016-

The government has lifted a travel ban on Nepali security guards going to work in Afghanistan, hardly two months after the Kabul suicide attack that claimed the lives of 13 Nepali guards working for the Canadian embassy.

On June 23, three days after the deadly attack, the then KP Sharma Oli-led government had stopped issuing permits to Nepalis to work in the war-torn country amid a public outrage.

Officials at the Department of Foreign Employment (DoFE) said the decision was taken before Dashain based on the recommendation of concerned stakeholders including migrant workers.

“Many people suggested that the ban should be lifted as there is no more threat as perceived,” said Pudasaini. “The government lifted the ban as suggestion came from several quarters that the deadly incident was a result of circumstances.” The embassies in Kathmandu of the United States and Canada had also suggested lifting the ban, he said.

DoFE officials said permits would be issued to Nepalis going to work in the Green Zone with full assurance of workers’ safety and security from the employers. Green Zone loosely refers to selected employers including the United Nations, NATO allies and western missions.

Pudasaini said that the employers willing to hire Nepali guards would have to comply with the security measures suggested by the government. According to him, the employers should ensure that workers’ residence is located at the duty premises or if the residence is outside of the station, there should be strong security measures to transport the workers to and fro.

Officials at the Ministry of Labour and Employment (MoLE) said the ban was lifted based on the recommendation of a high-level committee formed to analyse the security situation of the Nepali workers in Afghanistan. The committee recommended sending Nepalis as migrant workers to Afghanistan only after safety assurances and residence on the work premises by the hiring companies.

MoLE officials also hinted at lifting the ban on Nepalis going to other conflict zones including Iraq and Libya arguing that the travel restriction has done little to discourage Nepalis to leave for these countries. Some studies also highlight the failure of the blanket ban to stop workers from going abroad.

A recent report titled ‘Labouring Under Fire’, published by the Centre for the Study of Labour and Mobility, suggests that many Nepalis have been going to Afghanistan without obtaining permission from the government even after the Kabul attack. Victims and families of those who lost their lives in the Kabul attacks have been asking the government not to send any workers to Afghanistan unless the employers agree to better security measures and better insurance cover for the workers. Many victims’ families are yet to get proper compensation.

Despite potential security threats, Afghanistan continues to be one of the most lucrative destinations for Nepali security guards. A guard earns a minimum of Rs100,000 in Afghanistan.

A total of 9,214 Nepalis including 42 women obtained work permits from the department in the last one decade to work in the troubled country although the actual number is estimated to be much higher.

Published: 17-10-2016 07:39

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