Suicide rate among Nepalis working abroad went up by 16 per cent in the last fiscal, indicating many outbound workers are under severe stress, which they can no longer tolerate.
Of 880 Nepali workers who died abroad in the last fiscal, 94 chose to take their own lives, as against 81 in the previous fiscal, show the statistics of the Foreign Employment Promotion Board. This means suicide accounted for 11 per cent of deaths of overseas migrant workers in the last fiscal.
In the last seven fiscal years — 2007-08 to 2013-14 — 3,310 workers lost their lives abroad, of which 337 killed themselves. This shows over 50 per cent of suicide cases of the last seven years occurred in fiscals 2012-13 and 2013-14.
FEPB Executive Director Radhu Raj Kaphle said increasing number of suicide cases among Nepalis working abroad could be considered the ‘social cost’ of huge migration for employment purposes. Last fiscal alone, over half a million Nepalis left the country for employment.
“Lack of counselling on stress management and work place tension could be the reasons for growing number of suicide cases,” Kaphle added. Data show that 41 Nepali workers committed suicide in Malaysia in the last fiscal, followed by 18 in Saudi Arabia and 12 in Qatar. Nine workers took their lives in the United Arab Emirates and the same number in Kuwait.
Cardiac arrest, traffic accident, heart attack and work place accident are the other major causes of Nepalis’ death abroad, show FEPB data. FEPB officials said increasing number of unnatural deaths among migrant workers has emerged as a major problem for the government. They said death rates were going up despite hike in frequency of inspections at orientation schools to make pre-departure counselling effective. In the last fiscal year, a total of 880 Nepali workers, including 24 women, died in 14 countries. According to FEPB, 303 Nepali workers died in Malaysia, the largest labour destination for Nepalis; 219 died in Saudi Arabia; 207 in Qatar; 67 in the United Arab Emirates and 39 in Kuwait.
South Korea, as well as Oman, witnessed deaths of 14 Nepali workers.
The FEPB figure is based on compensation provided to families of those migrant workers, who reached the labour destinations legally. The death rate among overseas migrant workers will increase, if the number of workers, who have used illegal channels to get placements abroad, is included.
The government extended a compensation of Rs 1.5 lakhs to the families of each migrant worker who died abroad.