The government’s planned reintegration programme has hit a major roadblock that has raised questions about its effective implementation — lack of data.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of Nepali migrant workers are returning home, for which the government is preparing a reintegration programme with an aim to utilise the returnees.

“However, lack of exact facts and figures about migrant workers is affecting our work,” informed Rajan Shrestha, executive director of Foreign Employment Promotion Board (FEPB).

“Corona Crisis Management Centre (CCMC) has provided us data related to the number of workers that have returned from abroad during this pandemic, which is not enough for us to implement our reintegration programme,” he said adding, “But we need to identify who really needs this support from government, for which coordination from the local governments is necessary.”

He further said that the real action can be taken by the local governments on this matter. “We still don’t know what kind of skill sets they possess or what type of programmes would be beneficial for migrant workers,” he said, “We need to know the skills they have learnt while working abroad and their expectation from the government.”

Some returnees may be looking for a suitable job while others could want to do something on their own.

So, to analyse the different needs and to identify the needy ones, the local governments have to actively work in their respective areas, he added. “Many of the returnee migrants might want to go back while others may want to stay back and work here. But we don’t have any detail except for the number of returnees,” he added.

Adding to the challenge, while the government has the data of returnees from air route, there is no official record of the migrant workers who have returned from India during the lockdown period and may have gone back again seeking jobs. “We still don’t have any data of workers that have returned from India. Indeed, they will be included in our programme.

But we don’t have their details,” Shrestha confessed.

As per him, the board has prepared a framework of reintegration programme and is currently seeking its approval.

Meanwhile, Uma Thapa Magar, deputy mayor of Nepalgunj Sub-Metropolitan, claimed that the federal government had not included them in such initiative.

“We have heard that the government is working on a reintegration programme, however, till date we have not received any information regarding collaboration or any other support that we can provide to implement the programme,” she said.

Rather the sub-metropolitan is preparing programmes on its own to encourage youths to stay back.

“Individually we are doing our own survey regarding how many migrant workers have returned in our area, what kind of skills they have, what they want to do and what their expectations are,” she said. To know the qualifications and skills of the migrant workers is one of the major works that the federal, local and provincial governments have to do jointly to make the reintegration programme a success, she added.

“However, we have not received any message from either the federal or the provincial government,” she said.

The stakeholders had presented their views during a webinar titled ‘Reintegration Planning and Programme’ organised today by Foreign Employment Journalists Society.


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