Govt concerned about Nepalis in war-torn Syria

KATHMANDU (The Kathmandu Post/ANN) - As tensions mount in Syria in the wake of airstrikes by the United States and its allies France and Britain, the Nepal government has expressed concern about safety of Nepalis in the Middle Eastern country.

The airstrikes were carried out in retaliation for last Saturday’s suspected chemical attack that killed dozens of Syrian civilians, including children. The US-led forces unleashed more than 100 missiles on Syria, targeting and destroying a scientific research centre and two suspected chemical weapons storage facilities.
Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Bharat Raj Paudyal said the government was closely following the developments in conflict-ravaged Syria and monitoring situation of Nepalis in the country.

The ministry said that it was receiving regular briefings and updates from the Nepali Embassy in the Egyptian capital Cairo. “We have instructed our mission in Cairo to take stock of the situation of Nepalis there,” said Paudyal.  

However, the government does not have any information about the number of Nepalis, possibly living in war-torn country. “As the country is not an open destination for Nepali migrant workers, we do not have exact data on the number of Nepalis living there,” he said.

According to unofficial estimates, nearly 500 Nepalis, mostly women, are working as maids in various cities in Syria.

In June 2016, the government had banned its citizens from taking up employment in Syria, Iraq, Libya and Afghanistan after 13 Nepali security guards were killed in a Taliban suicide bomb in the Afghan capital of Kabul.

Reports from the Middle East, however, suggest Nepalis women have been entering the country over the years. Most of these women are either duped into the country after falling prey to the human traffickers or ended up there after traveling through different countries.

Spokesperson Paudyal said there was no report of casualties or any tragic incidents involving Nepalis until Sunday evening, while the government continues to keep tab on the situation.

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