We’ll readily pay all our ticket and travel expenses and stay in quarantine for 14 days
KATHMANDU, MAY 27
Nepalis, who had travelled abroad for non-employment reasons such as education, health and leisure and have been stuck there due to travel restrictions in place to contain the spread of coronavirus, are waiting with bated breath to get details of the government’s plan to rescue stranded citizens.
According to a source at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, the high-level coordination committee for prevention and control of COVID-19 has already submitted a detailed action plan to rescue stranded Nepalis to Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli.
While the source refused to divulge details of the report, he said the action plan would be revealed in a day or two. “The concerned ministries, as well as provincial and local governments, have already started making preparations for quarantine and other measures to accommodate evacuated Nepalis.”
The news has given new hope to Ashok Rajbhandari, who had gone to Spain for treatment of his neurological disorder with his wife in February.
They were scheduled to return in April, but have been stranded there.
“We are staying at our relatives’ place, but it’s becoming more and more awkward as they are also going through a crisis,” he told THT over Facebook Messenger, adding that he had promised to pay back his relatives the expenses incurred during their stay once he returns home.
“There have been numerous media reports about the government preparing to rescue stranded Nepali migrants, but cases like ours have largely been ignored, even though we will readily pay all our ticket and travel expenses and stay in quarantine for 14 days.”
In another case, Avishek Glane Tamang, who was doing his internship after completing his hotel management course in Thailand, has been stuck there. He had planned to return to Nepal in the first week of April.
“The hotel where I was doing my internship has been shut for the past two months and I have run out of money,” he said, adding that around 100 students like him are surviving with aid from Non-resident Nepali Association, the Thai government and locals there.
Nischaya Ghimire, a post graduate student in Australia, on the other hand, has lost an academic year, as well as his job, due to the pandemic.
Speaking to THT via Messenger, he said he had sustained so far by taking loans from friends, as his parents were unable to send him money. “I don’t know how long I will be able to manage like this.”
It is estimated that more than 15,000 to 20,000 Nepalis in foreign destinations for reasons other than employment are desperate to return home. According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, countries such as the US, the United Kingdom, Spain, Portugal, Australia, France, South Korea, Japan, Iran, Maldives and Sri Lanka have been seeking the government’s help to rescue them.
“We have received massive rescue requests from several countries, but as the government has not taken any concrete decision related to non-migrant Nepalis, we have only collected details so far,” said a high-ranking MoFA official on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.
“I don’t want to point finger at anyone in particular, but the government has largely failed to rescue stranded citizens as other countries have done,” the source said.
We’ll readily pay all our ticket and travel expenses and stay in quarantine for 14 days.
A version of this article appears in e-paper on May 28, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.
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