Government overwhelmed . . .
Even though the Nepalese government has been taking measures to control the COVID-19 outbreak, it has struggled with limited resources to enforce its nationwide lockdown and facilitating the return of citizens abroad. Consequently, beginning on March 20, returning citizens have been denied entry. On April 14, the government extended the nationwide lockdown until April 27, and suspended regular international and domestic flights until May 1.
Migrant workers trapped abroad . . .
Nepal has over 4.5 million migrant workers who contribute to more than 25 per cent of the country’s GDP. Due to recent government measures, migrant workers have not been able to return, and have been subjected to limited access to fundamental necessities, and even abuse, in other countries. In the United Arab Emirates, Nepalese migrant workers have been unable to access food and shelter. Similarly, local and international rights organizations have criticized Qatari authorities for mistreating hundreds of Nepalese citizens during the pandemic. Meantime, several thousands of its more than one million migrant workers in India are stuck at the border. Currently, 665 Nepalese migrant workers abroad have already tested positive and 29 have died from the novel coronavirus.
Canadians stranded, waiting for flights . . .
Last week, the Supreme Court of Nepal ordered the government to repatriate vulnerable migrant workers and help Nepalese citizens abroad receive immediate medical treatment and other forms of assistance. Meanwhile, more than 1,100 Canadian citizens are stranded in Nepal. The Canadian government has been urged to send chartered flights to repatriate trapped citizens in Nepal, where they have very limited access to medical facilities and care. While 141 Canadians returned on chartered flights on April 11, many more Canadians still remain in Nepal, needing resources and a way home.