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Nepal - Safe migration project

23 December 2013

The International Labor Organization (ILO) and the European Union have jointly launched a project to promote management of labour migration from Nepal, India and Pakistan to the Gulf countries according to Republica.

The three-year project worth EUR 2.4 million will run until May 2016. ‘Promoting Effective Governance of Labour Migration from South Asia' was launched on Friday in an effort to address the pertinent problems relating to migration of workers to Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries.

The GCC is a group of six Arab countries -- Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

Presenting an overview of the project at the launching of the programme, Anna Engblom, Chief Technical Advisor of the project, said the project would mainly focus on six strategies including promoting safe migration, generating labour market information, improving recruitment service and protecting employment.

The project programmes will also provide support in reducing migration costs and abuses by improving recruitment services, increasing protection in countries of origin and destination, enhancing training and portability of skills for outgoing and returning migrant workers.

"We will not only focus on creating the situation for safe migration but study on status of utilization of remittance for economic development of sending countries," said Engblom. Jose Assalino, Director of the ILO Country Office in Nepal, said the project is centered on promoting safe migration and protection rights of migrant workers.

"The project has a migrant-centered approach. It will provide support to some 20,000 migrant workers," said Assalino.

South Asia is major source of low and semi-skilled migrant workers for Gulf countries and Malaysia which have been offering fixed term job contracts. Rough estimation puts the number of annual demands for migrant workers from South Asia by destination countries in Gulf region at around two million.

Rensje Teerink, ambassador of EU Delegation to Nepal, said various cases of abuses of migrant workers and other problems in international migration prompted the EU to support the project.

"Migration process should be well-managed and we have to ensure the opportunities to invest the saving of hard-earned income of migrants for economic development," said Teerink. She stressed the need to link migration with development.

Labour Secretary Suresh Man Shrestha said the government has given priority to both protection of rights of migrants and exploring avenues for better utilization of remittance. Though remittance contributes around one-fourth of the total Gross Domestic Product of Nepal, around 80% of the overseas earning of Nepali migrants is spent on consumption.

Bal Bahadur Tamang, President of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA), criticized the government's apathetic attitude and lack of seriousness in regulating foreign employment.

Umesh Upadhyaya, representative from Joint Trade Union Coordination Committee (JTUCC), said both receiving and sending countries should be serious about resolving problems seen in international migration.

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