Amidst the confusion of exact number of Nepalis stuck in war-torn Afghanistan, 504 Nepalis have returned home, 11 have reached New Delhi and eight have left Kabul on Saturday, while 398 Nepalis have registered their whereabouts in the government portal.
US Media, including the New York Times, reported that about 15,000 Nepalis were working in Afghanistan at the time when the Taliban forces took over Kabul a few months after the United States began to withdraw its forces from the war-torn country.
But Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction estimated that about 7,000 foreigners were in Afghanistan as the contract workers while Nepal government puts the number at a maximum of 1,500 Nepalis.
Speaking at the Labour and International Relations Committee of the House of Representatives about a couple of weeks ago, Foreign Secretary Bharat Raj Paudyal said that there were over 1,500 Nepalis working in Afghanistan with labour permits. He also refuted the media reports about the staggering number of Nepalis staying there illegally.
While the government presents the data of the Nepalis who left the country for Afghanistan through formal channel and fed by the manpower agencies, a large number of Nepalis were recruited informally and taken to the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) bases and elsewhere in Afghanistan.
Most of the Nepalis hired by the contractors like Fluor Corporations and many others for the NATO forces in Afghanistan were first taken to Dubai in ‘Tourist Visa’ and lifted from there without any visa or entry stamps, said Prajal Choudhary, who worked for a couple of years at Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan.
Only the contractor companies could have the exact number of Nepalis in Afghanistan but since multiple companies are involved in hiring, transporting and
managing foreign workers including mercenaries in various bases of NATO there, it is difficult to obtain cumulative data.
According to Choudhary, Nepalis were working in Afghanistan as the security guards, drivers and helpers. War equipment disposal was also managed by Nepalis, hundreds of Nepalis were involved in such works, he said.
There were more than 100 bases of NATO about a decade ago which were increased in the later years and most of them had Nepali guards, drivers and helpers, stated Choudhary.
Another Afghanistan-returnee said that although he worked for NATO forces in Afghanistan for more than five years and made a round-trip to Nepal during his service, his passport bears no stamp or visa information to and from Afghanistan. Officially, he never visited Afghanistan but in reality he had earned millions of rupees there.
He said that food supply companies like Supreme Foodservice also hired Nepali workers. In later years, Afghanistan allowed foreign workers to enter the country which contributed to the increased number of migrants.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) said that all diplomatic channels were opened to facilitate the rescue of Nepalis from Afghanistan. It has launched a portal https://nepalconsular.gov.np/ to register information of Nepalis in Afghanistan which can be filled by the concerned individuals themselves or by their families and relatives.
Likewise, people can contact Department of Consular Services (DoCS) at +977-9749326458, MoFA at +9779749326459 and Embassy of Nepal in India at +918929601925 on cell phone, Viber and WhatsApp.
The MoFA said to The Rising Nepal that if the exaggerated number about illegal migrant workers was true, the portal would have been flooded with the information since their families can fill the form.
“The portal is not only for the Nepalis who reached Afghanistan through formal channel but for all,” Spokesperson of the Ministry Sewa Lamsal said.
Meanwhile, on Saturday, additional eight Nepalis have left Kabul for Nepal. Thirty-four Nepalis who were stuck out of the Kabul Airport are transferred to safer location and the government is making necessary coordination to bring them home, said the MoFA in a statement.
Source : TRN,