Nepali migrants face difficulties making informed
choices regarding their most suitable destination
country despite the government’s efforts to produce substantive information detailing the
specific labour needs abroad. A range of print and multimedia resources exist to assist migrants
preparing for departure, all with differing levels of uptake and reach. A wealth of information about safe recruitment is available on two
government websites, including relevant legislation,
databases of blacklisted agencies, and orientation
essentials for arrival in the destination country.
These resources, though, are mostly used only by experienced or educated migrants. Aspiring
migrants, particularly women and those from
remote areas who do not speak Nepali, cannot
write or read or have little or no experience of
the internet, still rely primarily on agents and
other migrants – often leaving them vulnerable
to misinformation and fraud. All Nepali migrants
travelling through regular channels must attend
a two-day pre-departure course; those migrating
irregularly, including many women, are excluded.
First-time departees generally find the course
useful; returnees are often critical about the lack
of more country-specific information. Not all the
private institutions that offer the trainings stick
to the set curriculum, and there is little focus on
fraud by recruitment agencies. Many training
providers also certify individuals who have not
attended classes, on payment of the course fee,
and many have a business arrangement with
recruitment agencies which can be a conflict of
interest, and in some cases, another rent-seeking
opportunity. Migrant resource centres have been set up in passport application offices in 39
districts across Nepal under a joint initiative with
the Swiss government. These centres, along with
their outreach volunteer, print and broadcast programmes, are having some success in raising
migrants’ awareness of their rights and potential
abuses along their migration journey, although they
do not address push factors or the powerlessness
many face when making their decision to migrate.
The Nepali authorities also work closely with the
ILO to deliver trainings, campaigns and targeted
publications. However, access to information
alone does not prevent contract substitution or
the payment of illegal recruitment fees and other
associated costs with many migrant workers
acknowledging that they felt compelled to pay
despite being aware of the “Free Visa, Free Ticket
There is little current evidence of a concerted,
joined-up effort by the Kuwaiti government to assist
and inform migrants as to their rights, protections
and opportunities. Initiatives tend to be driven by the ILO, or by private charitable organisations
such as the Social Work Society. Information made available on government websites requires
knowledge of Arabic to find, and is very basic –
although brochures on workers’ rights are at least
presented in a range of languages, and do provide
contact details where it is stated that migrants can
file complaints in confidence. The texts of relevant
labour laws are provided on these websites, but not in translation. Although Kuwait has sought the
assistance of the ILO and to carry out, there is not
much available evidence of the Kuwaiti authorities’
active cooperation or leading role in the delivery of ILO’s awareness raising activities and trainings to civil society or migrant workers. Likewise, there
do not appear to be any long-term government
programmes encouraging outreach to workers by
employers, workers’ organisations, recruiters or
civil society groups.
Recommendations to the Government of Nepal:
- Upgrade pre-departure training to include country-specific information, information regarding fraud risks, and grievance mechanisms.
- Provide specialized pre-departure training for domestic workers and institute regular phone check-in procedures for domestic workers with Nepali consulates in Gulf states
- Complement pre-departure seminars with post-arrival orientation seminars and hold country specific information dissemination sessions upon workers’ arrival and semi-regularly thereafter.
- Exclude private employment agencies from any role in the provision of pre-departure and post-arrival orientation seminars.
Recommendations to the Government of Kuwait:
- Make online information, including key portals on Ministry of Interior’s and PAM’s websites available in workers’ languages.
- Conduct public information campaigns combatting xenophobic rhetoric against migrant workers.