Nepal Kuwait

Nepal - Kuwait: Information for workers

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 policy”.

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.