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Amnesty yet to reach housemaids



KATHMANDU: Saudi Arabian call for amnesty to illegal migrant workers have not reached to the domestic helps in the country.

About 125 Nepali women migrant workers have taken travel document— widely known as out pass— from Nepali embassy in Riyadh so far.

The UN Women and Nepal Institute of Development Studies in 2011 had estimated that about 63,000 Nepali women were working in Saudi Arabia. It is estimated that the number have reached 70,000 in the last two years and more than 15,000 women working in Saudi Arabia illegally. Most of them are domestic helpers.

However, the Department of Foreign Employment data showed that only 1,019 Nepali women have reached the destination through official process. About 273 Nepali women reached Saudi Arabia for jobs in current fiscal year.

“About 125 women have got travel document from the embassy,” said Nepali ambassador to Saudi Arabia Udaya Raj Pandey, adding that women seeking travel documents have increased in recent days.

“About 80 Nepali women are in shelter house waiting for travel visa,” he said.

However, the number is not encouraging. It is just 0.13 per cent of total estimated 15,000 illegal women migrant workers in the destination. Most of Nepali women are working as housemaids and they are unaware of the amnesty information.

Nepali embassy cannot identify illegal women workers in the destination country without getting proper information from their families, relatives and friends, he said, adding that steps should be taken back home to collect information about them. “Most women migrant workers regularly contact their families, so they should be informed about the amnesty plan,” he said.

According to the embassy, it has so far issued over 35,000 travel documents to illegal workers. They have been facing problem to get exit visa from Saudi Arabian immigration. Hundreds of Nepalis have been waiting outside immigration offices established to support amnesty workers, said a migrant workers from Gulmi Puran KC.

“I got an exit visa by paying 500 Riyal (Rs 12,930) to an agent at the office,” he said, adding that migrant workers have been paying money for the free exit visa. It should be controlled, he added.

He urged the Nepal government to help the stranded migrant workers who are struggling to buy air tickets.

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