60 run-away housemaids from the shelter of the Embassy were sent back tonight to Nepal from Kuwait by Fly Dubai Airlines, as the largest group on the last day of the Amnesty. Officials of the Embassy had seen them off at the Kuwait International Airport. Similarly, over 40 such run-away maids who had been in the shelter for a long time were also sent back to Nepal during the past two weeks. 95 % of these maids were illegally trafficked via third countries by different traffickers at different times. Other 48 maids had been sent back through deportation centers 3 weeks ago. Hardly 15 percent possessed Passports while all others were issued travel documents by the Embassy free of cost. Most of the trafficked maids possess either tampered or fake and forged Passports when they enter.
As of today, there are still 116 housemaids who either came to the shelter after February or who do not possess any document/s or are involved in some cases lodged by the sponsor to the law enforcement authorities when they had ran away from the work place. This number varies every day, as few of them leave for Nepal on completion of legal formalities, while few more arrive everyday.
An Amnesty of 4 months was granted by His Highness the Amir of Kuwait last February on the occasion of 50th Anniversary of Independence, 20th Anniversary of Liberation and 5th Anniversary of the reign of H H the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al Almad Al Jaber Al Sabah of Kuwait, to the illegal expatriate workers without paying any fines. But those with criminal cases were not covered by the Amnesty. The Embassy of Nepal in Kuwait had issued over 3,500 Travel Documents during the last 4 months to the male and female workers from Nepal who had run away from the work place and were staying and working illegally outside in other places on their own . It is yet to know from the immigration record of Kuwait whether all those 3,500 workers illegally working outside who obtained the Travel Documents have all left Kuwait by today. Around 350 such illegal Nepali workers had reportedly legalized their visas by paying fines and have become legal as well during this 4 months period, as informed by the Immigration authorities to the Embassy.
Although there is no confirmed official data, it is estimated that there are over 52,000 Nepali workers in Kuwait, mostly in the domestic sector. The Government of Kuwait had officially informed last May that the number was around 40,000 and among them, the majority were either trafficked directly from Nepal or via third countries on different categories of visas by well-organized and active groups of traffickers or had entered illegally on their own without the labour approval of the Department of Foreign Employment. However, those workers were not all illegals here although illegal according to the labour law of Nepal, as they had Kuwaiti residency visas. Since then, around 10,000 workers have legally entered and few more thousands are estimated to have been trafficked as well, during the last one year. Kuwait had also been one of the transit points for many Nepalis for long tome to go to work in Iraq illegally.
There are also some agents or organized groups who are active in bringing the workers on visit visas without official clearance and in collusion with different agencies. In Kuwait, the domestic workers are issued Visa category 20 and those coming to work in organised sector are issued Visa Category 18. Some of the man power agencies of Nepal get their Demand Letters approved the Embassy and DOFE for Visa 18 but then fraudulently send the workers under Visa 20. There cases in which a poor worker who dream of working for a Company but finally is sent to work as shepherd in the desert without any minimum facility. These irregularities are taking place since the immigration officials at the TIA do not properly check the category of Visa during the time of departure.
Kuwait had suspended the entry of Nepalese workers in the organized sector except in the government contracts. The suspension was withdrawn last year after the new Embassy of Nepal was opened. The Government had also enhanced the minimum wages to KD 60 in the case of organized sector early last year. It is now mandatory for any worker who is coming from Nepal to Kuwait to work to obtain an approval of the Department of Foreign Employment. However, several male workers are still heading to Kuwait without labour approval under “setting” system.
During the last few weeks, the authorities have time and again warned all the illegal workers to leave the country within the Amnesty period and that those who do not abide by this order will be strictly dealt with with maximum punishment. The Embassy had also issued notice to the community by different means to comply with this order.
June 30, 2011
Embassy of Nepal
State of Kuwait