Dangerous destinations

That Nepalese have left the country in droves in search of employment in the labor destination countries of the Persian Gulf and Southeast Asia is not news. Nepalese people face various difficulties including physical injuries and fatalities under occupational hazards. In most of these cases, Nepalese go through established channels and legal channels. However, there is an entirely illegal human smuggling business promising to take Nepalese to Europe and North America that has eluded notice for years. Nepalese people travel to distant places like Turkey, spending between 1 and 1.5 million rupees to get there. These Nepalese leave their homes to escape poverty, unemployment and hunger. As the Job reported on Saturday that Greece had been a transit point for Nepalese trafficked to enter other European countries for some time. A few other reports that seem few and far between point to the illegal route that leads Nepalis to the United States of America, sailing through more than a dozen countries. While these cases of trafficking are illegal, they are also dangerous, as dozens of Nepalese have lost their lives and the government remains mostly ignorant.

The journey often takes more than six months or even a year as they travel illegal routes linking 15 countries on their way to the United States. Even after reaching their destination, some Nepalese end up being deported back to Nepal, once again losing their dreams of a settled life. The desperation to sustain life and livelihoods has forced the Nepalese to take risky paths. It is the story of the postponement of dreams and the dashing of the hopes of the Nepalese people for a prosperous future.

The Job, in its report, cites a research paper titled “Cross-Border Crime between Turkey and Greece: Human Trafficking and its Regional Consequences”, which states that of the total number of migrants who enter Greece via Turkey, 14% are heading to the UK, 13% to Germany, 6% to Italy, 5% to France and 13% to Greece itself. The Nepalese reach Turkey by braving rough waters and rugged terrain, then head to Greece. Nepalis travel hand in hand with South Asian and African nationals, forming a camaraderie of desperate humans who travel to distant lands through illegal routes to survive. But surviving the journey is often a matter of pure luck as migrants face dangers such as hunger, disease and accidents. Nepalis are forced to take dangerous routes to their destinations and are unable to use formal means of transport such as flights, buses and trains. The situation is so serious that no less than 21 migrants have died in the first five months of 2022.

To add to the problem, victims’ families often fail to inform the police since, in many cases, the officers are their relatives. A complaint to the police can mean the prosecution of officers for trafficking. The avoidance has resulted in a lack of data, so the police cannot authoritatively say how many Nepalese remain stranded on their way to foreign destinations and how many have died. The government cannot let the Nepalese die in the Mediterranean Sea and the jungles of Colombia and Panama as they travel the illegal route in search of work when there are so many opportunities in the country. It should put in place strong measures to end the smuggling of Nepalese. Above all, it should create economic opportunities in the country, so that Nepalese do not have to leave it for dangerous destinations.