Migration Policy: Efforts and Challenges in the context of Nepal 

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Migration Policy: Efforts and Challenges in the context of Nepal 

Kathmandu,18 Dec 2014: Nepal observed the International Migrants Day amid various programmes today.

The Day holds a huge significance for a country like Nepal which, on the contrary to its earlier identity as a country of migrants, sees some 500,000 Nepalese annually flocking abroad for employment.

The day could be pivotal to secure the welfare of the migrants worldwide as the United Nations, taking into account a large number of migrants world-wide, declared December 18 as International Migrants Day in 2000.

There are currently around 2 billion 320 million migrant workers around the world, a study of the UN shows.

Migration, the third factor for population change worldwide, is a comprehensive word in itself.

When it comes to the context of Nepal, the word has a structural problem.

Nepal was once regarded as a safe heaven for those who thronged to this hinterland for safety, security and economic opportunities. History records that Nepal has been witnessing the influx of migrants over various periods of time.

Early rulers of Nepal, the Lichhavis and the Malla kings, entered Nepal from India after Muslim invasion.

Similarly, the Tibetans entered Nepal to escape persecution by Chinese government in the early 50s, Burmese Nepalis in the 60s, Bangladeshis (then East Pakistan) in the early 70s and Bhutanese Nepalis in the 80s and the 90s.

Likewise, a large number of Indians are in Nepal in search of better opportunities. The trend has been continuing even as of today. Similarly, an estimated 3 million Nepalis are in India for work.

Many refugees from Africa (Somalia) and Middle East (Iraq) are in Nepal seeking political asylum. We are in a nation which is theoretically ruled by immigrants, as the figure of indigenous people in the country is pegged at less than 30 percent.

The picture of both inter-country and intra-country immigration in Nepal casts a gloomy look. A large number of people moved to the Terai plains after the government launched Malaria eradication programme in the 50s.

Similarly, the decade-long Maoist-led insurgency displaced more than 100,000 people. Brain drain of intellectuals and a staggering number of youths leaving the country for greener pastures abroad has become a chronic problem for the country.

Managing immigration flow will be a great challenge for Nepal in the absence of an effective migration policy. Ad hoc decisions and sectorial acts practiced to resolve any problems regarding migration and emigration stresses on the dire need for migration policy in such context.

The biggest challenge is to concern complexity of areas and issues. The peace and friendship treaty between India and Nepal, which allows national treatment for both countries’ fellow citizen, needs to be amended or abrogated.

The porous border between India and Nepal needs constant surveillance and policy should offer a practical solution. To reduce the staggering number of outflow of tens of thousands of migrant workers, the government must focus on industrialization and economical development. The government should adopt a sustainable approach while implementing development projects to reduce demographic desertification.

In other words, the overall outlook of the nation needs to change to make migration policy a success as it has to take many complex issues into consideration. Last but not the least, the Migration Policy of Nepal has to be a ‘policy of Welcoming’ than of barring.

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(Rosha Basnet)

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