One in every five person in Qatar today is a Nepali. Nepalis are deported daily from Doha airport because they have been duped by recruiters. Every year more than 200 Nepalis come home in coffins from Qatar alone, like the one above on Wednesday.
Eighteen per cent of Nepal’s population of 30 million works abroad. Half of them are seasonal migrants in India, but no one keeps any records of where they go, what jobs they do or how much money they send home. Which is why the national discourse on migrant workers is dominated by the estimated 2 million who are in the Gulf, Malaysia, Korea and Japan. They send home $4 billion a year, and remittances now make up more than a third of the country’s GDP. But at what cost to the country?