12/20/2013, 00.00
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Nepal, migrants' money sustains the economy . At the cost of slavery and violence

by Christopher Sharma
€ 3.2 billion per year remittances from migrant workers account for 24% of the local economy . In five years, more than 2630 Nepalese have died in mysterious circumstances in Arab countries .

Kathmandu ( AsiaNews) - The Nepalese migrant workers are a great resource for Nepal. Through their remittances they help the nation cope with the economic crisis. Approximately 24% of state revenues is the result of remittances which in 2012 alone amounted to approximately € 3.2 billion . The money sent home contributes to the development of families and the country, but is the result of working conditions on the verge of slavery and many young migrants often lose their lives in their host countries.

According to Kathmandu government sources there are about 3 million workers living abroad, but the figure reaches 5 million if irregular immigrants are included. A report by the Foreign Employment Promotion Board ( Fepb ) and the International Tribhuwan airport authority published for World Day of Migrants, December 18 , shows the tragic living conditions of the Nepalese abroad. Every day at least 3 bodies of migrants who died in mysterious circumstances arrive home, while there are hundreds of workers injured on the job who choose to return to Nepal.

In 20 years, bout 7,400 Nepalis have died during their stay abroad for work. Since 2000 there has been an increase in deaths at work in Muslim countries: 3500 in Sauudi Arabia and 2,000 in Malaysia. In five years, the Gulf countries and Asian countries in the developing world have become one of the main destinations for Nepalese migrants, willing to work in conditions of semi - slavery. For the Fepb about 2,630 people emigrated in the Gulf and South- East Asia have died since 2004: 736 in Saudi Arabia, 915 in Malaysia, 614 in Qatar , 215 in the UAE, 72 in Kuwait, 47 in Bahrain and 31 in Korea . There are thousands of cases of torture and abuse recorded in Muslim countries because of the migrants faith. Brad Adams of Human Rights Watch emphasizes that "the Gulf countries should recognize the crucial role of foreign workers in their economies and take appropriate measures to protect their rights and their safety." The head of Human Rights Watch in Asia also called on the countries of South Asia to "kick start labor reforms to put an end to abuses against migrants ."

For the International Domestic Workers Network ( Idwn ) , an organization that brings together workers engaged as domestic servants,  HRW and the International Trade Union Conferederation , at least 40% of migrants employed as domestic workers and carers experience violence , including beatings, detention in slave-like conditions and sexual abuse. Most are women from India, Nepal , Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Cambodia. In some countries it is the state that promotes restrictive laws against human rights. An example is the system of " Kafala " in force in Qatar and other Arab countries , which requires the new employee to hand over his or her passport to the employer , who often uses this power to blackmail the employee . Sali Shelly Human Rights Watch representative in Qatar highlights that "it is absurd to think that in the richest countries of the world there are people who are hungry. Qatari authorities should take immediate action". So far, only 25 countries have acceded to international conventions for the protection of migrant workers. South America has made ​​great strides in the defense of foreign workers, while in Asia, only the Philippines has signed such agreements, which regard above all to domestic workers and carers.


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