At least 166 Nepali migrant workers have died in Malaysia in the last four and a half months, reveals the Nepal’s embassy in Kuala Lumpur, raising a serious question over Nepali workers’ condition in East Asia’s second largest economy.
Nepali embassy record shows that more than one Nepali worker died every day from July 1 to November 14, due to causes like heart attack, suicide, traffic accident, work place accident and natural deaths. Some 2,700 Nepali citizens have died in the country since 2003, the year when the government started to record such incidents.
Malaysia is largest labour destination for Nepali workers. Around 700,000 of total 2.5 million Nepali migrant workers are employed there. Stakeholders attribute the increasing number of deaths to appalling working condition, climate, lack of medical care and compulsion to work under immense stress, though there has been very little research on the matter. Doctors said most of the deaths could be avoided through healthy lifestyle and by ensuring better work environment, food, adequate rest and regular health check-ups.
Senior cardiologist Dr Prakash Raj Regmi, who deals with migrant workers’ health issues, said heart-related ailments are particularly high among Nepali migrant workers in Malaysia and the Gulf countries. Other factors like over work and depression force many of them to commit suicide, Regmi told the Post in a recent interview.
An internal report of the Labour Ministry in 2012 also concluded that almost half of the deaths could have been avoided by providing better working environment, improved living condition, disseminating knowledge on traffic system and promoting regular health check-ups.
Remittance remains the major lifeblood for the country’s economy, with over 26 percent contribution to the GDP. But the government has persistently failed to prevent the exploitation of workers both inside the country and abroad.
Ganesh Gurung, who has written extensively on Nepali labour migration, said the stakeholders are not doing anything to question the death of ‘physically and mentally fit’ Nepali workers in Malaysia and the Gulf. “The growing number of death indicates that neither the labour destination nor the country of origin care about these workers’ well-being. Ironically, these are countries which are in most dire need of workers for development,” Gurung said. Experts say there is an urgent need of extensive research to find out why Nepali workers are dying at such an alarming pace.
Officials at the Ministry of Labour and Employment said unmonitored training, lack of pre-departure orientation, use of fake health certificate in Nepal and ‘inhumane treatment’ in the destination country might have induced the death. “Everyone, including the concerned department and the recruiting agencies, should take the blame. The destination countries should also do their best to ensure that rights of migrants are not violated,” said Buddhi Bahadur Khadka, spokesperson of the Labour Ministry.
Recruiting agencies in Nepal said they are ready to assist the government in tackling the increasing deaths and reforming the sector. “Workers should be familiarised with environment and work abroad,” said Bal Bahadur Tamang, president of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies, adding that even some recruiting agencies and medical centres are promoting anomalies.
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Source: Nepali Embassy in Malaysia
News taken from eKantipur