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Nepal’s migrant workers stare at job losses due to Chinese jabs

Growing doubts over Chinese Covid vaccines

Amid severe economic crisis and unemployment, Nepal which largely relies on remittances, has been hit as thousands of migrant workers seeking jobs outside the country have been barred entry.  Many countries have opened their doors to foreigners but only for those who have been vaccinated.

Most job seekers in Nepal have been administered Chinese vaccine – Vero Cell — by the government. “Providing the Vero Cell vaccine to outbound migrants will instead make things complicated for migrant workers since the vaccine has not been recognised by labour destination countries,” the Kathmandu Post quoted Sujit Kumar Shrestha, general secretary of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA) as saying. The privately run NEAFEA acts as a recruiting agency for foreign employers.

Also read: Inflow of remittances rise in Nepal, but is this also a cause for worry?

Despite the World Health Organisation giving its approval for emergency use for Chinese vaccines, many countries including several in the Gulf region have raised doubts over their efficacy.

Meanwhile, the Kathmandu Post also noted that over 1.5 million doses of Johnson and Johnson single shot vaccines which the US provided to Nepal through the UN back COVAX facility reached the country on July 12. The US made vaccine will be administered to people who are in the 50-54 years age bracket besides disabled people, refugees and health and sanitation workers.

Remittances, the main source of the country’s economy, form an integral part of Nepal's economy. contributing over 25 per cent to the country’s gross domestic product.

The World Bank in its report said that over the years, remittance inflows in Nepal have supported private consumption, poverty reduction, government revenues, and foreign exchange reserves.

Also read: Why Deuba’s appointment as Nepal PM cheers India

Unemployment has only risen in Nepal after the brutal second wave of Covid 19 and subsequent lockdowns. A survey by the Nepal Rashtra Bank last year indicated that more than 60 per cent of the businesses in the Himalayan country may completely shut down. Large number of Nepalese, looking for employment opportunities, are looking to move out of the country.

The Gulf countries including Qatar, UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman remain the most favoured employment destination for the Nepalese. Malaysia is also another country attracting large numbers of Nepalese youth. In another report published, Kathmandu Post said that these seven countries host about 1.3 million Nepali migrant workers.

Besides, the number of Nepali people working in India is estimated between 3 and 4 million. “A majority of Nepalis who work abroad are employed in India. But since Nepal and India share an open border, there are no official figures,” the newspaper said.