March 10: Qatar has temporarily banned visitors from 14 countries, including Nepal, in its effort to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). This has put a halt to outbound migrant workers from Nepal aspiring to work in the Gulf nation.
The decision has also affected flights between Kathmandu and Qatar’s capital Doha. Himalaya Airlines, a private joint venture company of Nepal, has already suspended its flight to Qatar while the state-owned Nepal Airlines Corporation will take a decision on Tuesday (March 10).
Of late, Qatar has become a prime destination for foreign employment for the Nepali migrant workers. Around 350 Nepali workers had been leaving for Qatar on a daily basis before the ban. But the latest decision of Qatar has barred even those workers who have already acquired work permit.
Currently, there are around 350,000 Nepali migrant workers in Qatar. More than 72,000 Nepali workers left for Qatar for foreign employment so far this year.
South Korea, another major foreign employment destination, has also stopped taking in any more migrant workers as the country is grappling with coronavirus epidemic.
The bans imposed by the countries will have direct impact on the remittance inflow to Nepal. The inflow of remittance from Qatar in the first four months of the current fiscal year was Rs 53.93 billion. According to a Nepal Rastra Bank (NRB) report on remittance, Gulf countries contribute 50.3 percent of the total remittance Nepal receives.
Director General of the Department of Foreign Employment, Kumar Prasad Dahal, says that the ban imposed by Qatar will create an imbalance in employment in the long run in Qatar. He said that the demand for workers in Qatar has not declined despite the ban.
Qatar imposed a ban on visitors from 14 countries including Nepal, India, China, South Korea among others effective from Monday (March 9).