‘3,000 Nepalis die in Saudi in 12 yrs’
KATHMANDU, JUL 02 -
Lack of training and a mandatory pre-departure orientation have taken a heavy toll on Nepalis working in Saudi Arabia. Over 3,000 migrant workers have died in that country in the past 12 years, according to the Nepali mission there.
The mission said 25-30 Nepalis die there every month and records with it show that 3,200 workers have died since the embassy was opened in 1978. Most of the deaths have been attributed to road and work place accidents, suicides and murders, though there has also been a significant number of natural deaths, a recent survey conducted by the Department of Foreign Employment and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs showed. However, the number of deaths attributed to consumption of homemade alcohol and exposure to extreme climatic conditions, usually heat and suffocation, is also rising, the survey found out.
“In my eight months’ tenure, I have found alcohol to be the main cause of deaths,” Nepali ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Udaya Raj Pandey, said. “Since alcohol is illegal in Saudi Arabia, the police here do not attribute death and suicide cases to alcohol. They are either considered natural deaths or simply suicide.”
“Many workers consume alcohol to avoid work weariness and drink before they sleep,” he said. Pandey claimed that a large number of the deaths could have been avoided had the workers undergone a mandatory pre-departure orientation. “Workers should be given at least a few weeks of orientation classes and training before leaving the country,” he said.
With little knowledge of laws in foreign lands, the environment and work conditions, migrants often face great difficulties in adjusting to the new climate. Many workers run away and work illegally without work permits when they are denied the pay and work they are promised. Officials at the Foreign Employment Promotion Board and the DoFE admitted that unmonitored training and a lack of orientation were the main causes of the deaths. Though workers are supposed to take mandatory orientation classes and training courses, sources said most of them submit fake certificates to avoid bureaucratic hassles at the DoFE. “Due to serious anomalies when it comes to imparting orientation and training, we have been rigorously verifying orientation certificates. Manpower companies and workers submitting fake certificates have been punished,” said Lal Babu Kawari, a director at the DoFE. He said a team had been assigned to check such anomalies.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs estimates that more than 500,000 Nepalis are currently working in Saudi Arabia.
Posted on: 2012-07-02 08:11