Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA) has urged the government to introduce a vaccine quota for people going abroad in foreign employment.
Around 90,000 Nepalis who have applied for jobs in foreign countries have been approved for visa procedure, according to Indira Gurung, Treasurer at the NAFEA.
As per the latest data made available by the NAFEA, 35,000 to 40,000 Nepalis have been approved. They have also obtained work permits and visas. However, less than 1,000 of them have been vaccinated against COVID-19 till Tuesday.
Earlier, the NAFEA had urged the Ministry of Health and Population to secure 500,000 doses of single-shot Janssen vaccines for people going abroad in foreign employment. However, the Health Ministry assured the association that 300,000 doses of vaccines would be secured, Gurung informed NepalNews.
The NAFEA officials have expressed their views that the government ought to secure vaccines introducing a vaccine quota for the migrant workers. Many countries have made it mandatory for migrant workers to get vaccinated. Meanwhile, the meeting of NAFEA held today has decided to submit a letter to the Health Ministry regarding the vaccines for the migrant workers.
Earlier, the employing companies in Saudi Arabia had not set any rule for migrant workers but now they have come up with a set of rules that have made it mandatory either to get vaccinated prior to the departure or to stay in quarantine after landing in Saudi Arabia, Gurung told NepalNews. The foreigners flying to Saudi Arabia are required to stay in quarantine but those producing the vaccination certificate along with negative PCR reports do not need to stay in quarantine, she said.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia has assured to bear the cost of migrant workers' organisational quarantine through the concerned employer and the recruiting agencies employing people as domestic workers. However, many recruiting agencies are reluctant to pay for the quarantine and prefer to employ workers who have been vaccinated, according to Gurung.
Likewise, people flying to Qatar need not stay in quarantine if they show negative PCR reports and the vaccination certificate. The Government of Qatar has authorised Pfizer-BioNTech, Moderna, Oxford-AstraZeneca and Janssen/Johnson &Johnson as per the Department of Foreign Employment.
Gurung said, "It is time-consuming waiting to acquire work permits and visas for those who miss the chance as it has to go through a long procedure." "So, it will be better if the government secures COVID vaccines in their quota."
As many as 166,000 Nepalis have left the country in foreign employment in the fiscal year 2077/78, according to the DoFE.