July 9, 2012
According to Himalayan News Service, up to 3,000 Nepali migrant workers have died in Saudi Arabia since 2000. During that period, 484,701 Nepalis migrated there to work.
Government data reveals that one in every 162 Nepali migrant workers who enter Saudi Arabia dies while working in extreme conditions and a totally different cultural environment.
Food habits, hot climate, cultural orientation and dangerous work conditions all contribute to the high mortality rate for Nepalis working in Saudi Arabia, according to Nepali ambassador in Riyadh Udaya Raj Pandey.
Though the government provides orientation to workers, it is insufficient. "They need country and job specific orientation," said Mahendra Pandey, president of Parvasi Nepali Coordination Committee, which works for safe migration of workers. According to him, the government should strictly monitor outsourcing agencies, make diplomatic missions aware about labor issues and provide sufficient budget for the rescue and welfare of workers. "We still do not have a separate budget for migrant workers facing difficulties," he said.
He said the government should allocate at least Rs 100 million to ensure rescue and legal aid for migrants who face trouble. There are more than 200 Nepalis in Saudi jails seeking legal aid but the government is doing nothing for them.
Labor expert Chiranjivi Nepal echoed Pandey's views. He said besides proper orientation, the Labor Ministry should establish strong monitoring system to regulate the sector. He said manpower agents should ensure fair treatment for migrant workers, as they are in close contact with employers. The government should hold them responsible for the safety of those they send abroad, he said.
Amnesty International paints an even grimmer picture. Please take a moment to view this 10-minute video: