Afghanistan: Why its a popular destination for Nepalese workers

While only 3353 permits have been issued to Nepalese workers by their government for working in the 'Green Zones' of Afghanistan, 8000 to 11,000 workers might be working in the country clandestinely.

Written by Yubaraj Ghimire | Kathmandu | Updated: June 21, 2016 3:36:14 pm
Taliban, Afghanistan, Nepalese workers, Afghanistan nepalese workers, Kabul blast, Taliban attack, Taliban attack nepalese, Kabul attack, kabul Suicide bomb, taliban suicide bomb kabul, afghanistan attack, afghanistan blast, taliban blast, kabul blast, explained, World news Kabul : Nepalese security guards receive treatment at a hospital following a suicide attack in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, June 20, 2016. At least a dozen Nepalese security guards of a foreign logistic company were killed Monday when a Taliban suicide bomber targeted their minibus in the Afghan capital, interior ministry and an Afghan security official said. AP/PTI

The Taliban attack in Kabul on Monday, that resulted in the death of 14 people, has been widely condemned in Nepal as the incident has wider ramifications for the country which sends a large number citizens as UN volunteers and security guards to the country.

Of the 14 killed, 12 were Nepalese passport holders; the other two were of Nepali origin and belonged to Dehradun, Uttarakhand. From Prime Minister K P Oli to opposition Nepali Congress leaders as well as former King Gyanendra, the country’s leadership has been unequivocal in condemning terrorism and the loss of life.

The incident comes nearly a week after a World Bank report had predicted a sizable contraction in the volume of remittances to Nepal which had once touched around 30 per cent of the GDP. The terror attack is likely to discourage the government from dispatching people to terror-affected countries like Afghanistan, as well as other regions where violence is widely prevalent. The number of Nepalese youth going abroad has been on the rise, especially during the past one decade of political instability and prolonged transition.

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Official records show that around 527,000 people left the country last year, mainly in search of manual labour. There are stringent rules in place for the drafting of Nepali labour to countries like Afghanistan and Iraq, especially after 12 Nepalese working for a U S sub-contractor in Iraq were killed by a jihadist outfit Ansar Al Sunna in 2014.

There are upto 12 private ‘man-power agencies’ — organisations which act as conduits between employers outside and prospective labourers — involved in the drafting process. Officials say all the Nepalese killed on Monday were either retired police or military personnel and had been hired by a Britain based ‘Sabre International’ to work as security guards for the Canadian mission in Kabul.

Also Read| Afghanistan: Dozens of passenger abducted by militants on Kabul-Kandahar Highway 

According to Satrughna Prasad Pudasaini, Director General of the Department of Foreign Employment, only 3,353 ‘permits’ have been issued for work in the ‘Green Zone’ in Afghanistan – areas less prone to terrorist attacks. He also said that permits are not issued to work in the ‘red zones’. However, officials estimates vary on the number of Nepalese working in the country clandestinely and it could be anywhere between 8,000 to 11,000.

What attracts Nepalese to work as security guards places like Afghanistan is the pay–a minimum of US $ 950 a month. Those who work as UN volunteers receive special allowances and paid trips to join the family every five weeks.

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