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427 deaths among the Gulf’s Nepali Workers

On August 16, 2013

Nepal’s Foreign Employment Promotion Board has lately revealed important figures on its national migrants working abroad. The new statistics covering reporting last year's numbers estimated that 2.5 million Nepalis work in Gulf and East Asian countries. Although those migrants make a 22% contribution to their country’s GDP, Nepal is not doing much to protect their rights in the hosting countries. This year’s death toll increased by 80 added to last year’s figure of 634 to become 726. Major reasons are related to illness, traffic accidents, suicide, and work accidents. Such figures might be higher since the report excludes undocumented workers. Those are denied the right to apply for a compensation from Nepal’s Migrant Workers Welfare Fund.

According to Nepal’s ambassador in Saudi Arabia, most of the deaths among Nepali workers in the Saudi Kingdom are caused by the climatic condition with the lack of a healthy routine. A cardiologist working with migrant workers said the air-conditioned rooms and the high-temperature working places lead to heart issues. Those workers also suffer from stress and food habits.

In the past year alone, 205 Nepali workers died in Saudi Arabia, 151 in Qatar, 47 in the UAE, and 14 in Bahrain. The report states that 80 of Nepali deaths in Saudi Arabia were natural but 70 in traffic accidents, 7 were heart-related, and 17 in suicide. The UAE had 6 in traffic accidents, 17 heart-related, and 3 in suicide. Notably, Qatar had a high number of heart-related deaths with 85 cases. Such deaths can be attributed to the extreme conditions of weather and forced labor that Nepali workers face as Qatar prepares to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup tournament.