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Article

26 Apr 2020

Author:
Upasana Khadka, Nepali Times

Nepal: Workers stranded in the Maldives await repatriation as tourism industry collapses

"Nepalis stranded in the Maldives", 27 April 2020

Ninety percent of Nepal's overseas contract workers are in West Asia and Malaysia, but there are other countries like the Maldives where the estimated 5-10,000 Nepalis employed in the tourism industry have been affected by the global pandemic.The resorts of this atoll archipelago nation have been increasingly popular for Nepali workers, who have built a strong reputation for work ethics there. Last year alone 2,000 Nepali workers left of the Maldives, nearly four times more than in 2015, to work in hotels and as housemaids. But some of these jobs are in jeopardy because of the pandemic...

Some hotels have told workers they should go home on unpaid leave until the tourism industry bounces back. In a survey by the Nepali community, 319 have expressed the desire to go back to Nepal paying for their own tickets. But there may be more who want to return if the Nepal government eases travel restrictions...

...Attempts to reach the Nepal Embassy in Colombo has not led to any solution. Nepali community leaders in Malé say that the need for a resident embassy or at least a consulate is felt most acutely during a crisis like this.It is likely that countries like Maldives, Seychelles and Mauritius which have Nepali workers in the service industry will not get the priority for phased repatriation once the lockdown is lifted because of the comparatively smaller numbers involved...