Nepali migrant workers stuck in Saudi Arabia

  • Are struggling to obtain ‘return permit’ from recruiters
- Rastriya Samachar Samiti, Kathmandu

Feb 26, 2017-When Kalicharan Shah of Saptari left for Saudi Arabia five years ago, he had a two-year labour permit to work there. His work permit expired three years ago and since then he is stuck in the Gulf kingdom, as he has failed to obtain the mandatory permit from his employer to exit the country. 

According to Saudi Arabian law, a worker must receive an exit permit from his/her employer to return home, even after the end of the contract or labour permit. 

“Three years have passed since my company started saying that ‘you will be sent home soon’, but I am yet to receive the permit,” Shah told RSS over the phone from Saudi Arabia. 

He has his mother, wife, three sons and one daughter back home in Saptari. 

Shah flew to Saudi after paying Rs 90,000 to the Worldwide Employment Consultancy in Tripureshwor, Kathmandu. The recruiting agency in Kathmandu and the Embassy of Nepal in Saudi Arabia have not been much of help, he said. Shah is one among several migrant workers from Nepal who are stuck in Saudi for similar reasons.

Tulasi Thapa, Arjun Shrestha, Chabi Lal Gautam of Dang; Shrawan Limbu and Naresh Kumar Chaudhary of Sunsari and Abjal Musal Man of Kapilvastu also have failed to return home despite several attempts for the last one year. 

During our three-year stay here in Saudi, we could find work only for 17 months, Chaudhary of Sunsari said over the phone. 

The company they were working for was blacklisted and hence the return permit issued by it was “not sufficient” for the workers to return home. 

“We could neither make money here, nor are we able to return home,” Chaudhary shared the dilemma the migrant workers are facing. “It’s like living in a jail.”

Chaudhary and his friends had gone to Saudi through Swastik Overseas in Baneshwor, Kathmandu. 

Kul Prasad Karki, president of the Migrant Nepali Coordinator Committee, said that many Nepali migrant workers are facing a lot of problems due to the “kafala” labour system that forces foreign workers to seek their employer’s permission to change jobs or leave the country.

A labour agreement between the two governments could help resolve the problem, said Karki, who also returned home after working for a decade in Saudi Arabia. 

Published: 26-02-2017 09:18

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