Krishna, a 62-year-old farmer from an earthquake-ravaged village in Nepal, has only visited the Tribhuvan International Airport twice. The first time was nearly five years ago, to say goodbye to his son, Indra, who was leaving to work for a construction company in Qatar. The second time was in 2019, to receive Indra’s body.
Three to four bodies of Nepali migrant workers arrive in body bags at the Kathmandu airport each day. At least 7,467 migrant workers have died abroad since 2008, according to figures from the government’s Labor Migration Report. Seven-hundred-fifty of those deaths were reported between 2018 and 2019.
These figures exclude workers who migrate through unauthorized channels and laborers who work in India, because of the bilateral agreement between the two countries.
The remittance that Indra sent home over the years helped fund his sisters’ weddings and pay off his father’s agricultural debts, but losing his son wasn’t worth it, said Krishna. “No amount of money was worth my son’s life,” he told DW.
Dependence on labor migration
The longstanding debate on the impacts of labor migration and remittances within the country is taking hold again, as Nepal’s economy looks set to suffer greatly due to the coronavirus pandemic.