KATHMANDU: Suicide among Nepali migrant workers has increased by 12.96 per cent in the last nine months.
The Foreign Employment Promotion Board has recorded 61 suicide cases in the period, while the number was 54 in the same period last year. Data shows that suicide is the third major cause of death among migrant workers after cardiac arrest — death while sleeping — and road accidents.
The cause of death of 90 migrant workers was not known as they died in their sleep and 81 lost their lives in road accidents. “Cardiac arrest is a big challenge to us because the cause of death is unknown,” said director at the board Tika Bhandari. Fraud and false promises are associated with suicide.
Amnesty International has identified ‘false promises’ by outsourcing agencies and their agents as a major factor fuelling frustration, anxiety and depression among migrant workers. “Therefore, migrant workers have been committing suicide in destinations,” said president of Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee Mahendra Pandey.
According to the board, high incidents of deaths were reported in major job markets —Malaysia and Gulf countries — in the last nine months among documented migrant workers. The board only keeps records of documented migrant workers.
Around 204 deaths were reported in Malaysia, followed by Saudi Arabia (163), Qatar (119) and United Arab Emirates (36). However, the most lucrative destination, South Korea, is no exception. About 11 Nepali workers died in South Korea, a job market that employs only 16,500 Employment Permit System migrants.
The board’s data reveals that worker deaths have increased in Malaysia, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and South Korea as compared to the same period last year. The death toll has dropped in UAE and Kuwait, and no changes have been observed in Israel and Lebanon. Lebanon and Israel are preferred job markets for women migrant workers but the destination closed their doors from December 2009 and April 2010, respectively.
According to the board, about eight women migrant workers have died in foreign lands between mid-July 2012 and mid-May 2013. “The number is only of documented workers,” said Bhandari. Two-thirds of the 244,000 Nepali women migrant workers who reached the destinations via India are not documented. Therefore, the real figure could be different from what has been reported in the board.