3-9 July 2015 #765

Stuck in Syria

Manisha Duwadi in Annapurna Post, 2 July

Sabitri Magar of Magargaun gets phone calls on her mobile everyday from abroad, and every time she picks it up hastily in the hope that it has something to do with her daughter, Sunita, who is in war-torn Syria. Before she can say hello, Sunita pleads: “Mom, they’ll kill me and throw my body somewhere. If you don’t do something, I won’t be back alive.”

Sabitri blames the recruiters for sending her daughter to such a hell. Sunita had separated from her husband, and left her young children in the care of her parents before she left to work abroad to be able to pay for their education. But she got duped by a middleman named Raju Dhungana of Pokhara and was abandoned in Syria, for which Nepal does not even issue labour permits. Dhungana got her a job with a family in Syria. She later learnt that the middleman had already taken her income of amount $5,000 from the employer as advance even before she started working.

“Her children keep asking for her and Sunita herself cries everyday on phone, but what can an old woman like me do?” asks a tearful Sabitri. “He has duped many young women and is currently hiding out in India.”

In a phone conversation Sunita told us she was treated fairly well in the beginning but when she asked for her salary, she was told it had already been given to Dhungana. She was beaten, denied food and not allowed to make phone calls. Sunita ran away from her employer and is staying with her agent, who is trying to pressure her to take another job. She had already worked for 2 years and should have earned $2000. The employer has her passport and is demanding Sunita return the $3,000 of the advance to get it back.

After finding out about Sunita, NRN Finland’s Balkrishna Shrestha is trying to bring Sunita back to Nepal. “We sent her tickets, but now they want the $3,000,” Sabitri has appealed to the Safe Migration Project but the Nepal Embassy in Israel isn’t showing much interest.

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