CATHERINE W GICHUKI
DOHA œQATAR has always had a good relationship with Nepal and I encourage Nepalese nationals to come and work in Qatar, said the outgoing Nepalese Ambassador to Qatar HE Maya Kumari Sharma.
Speaking at a press conference in Doha on Monday, the ambassador further said that she has been in Qatar for oneand- a-half years and has found the host nation's government and its people as œvery helpful to the Nepalese expatriate community .
œI have and will always try to build a good relationship with Qatar. Qatar has always offered job opportunities to the people of Nepal. There is also a huge amount of remittances from Qatar to Nepal. I am grateful to the government of Qatar and its people, the envoy said.
œAnd the domestic helps are still coming to Qatar.
Qatar is the safest place, especially for women. Housemaids are safer here compared with other GCC countries.
The advantages outweigh the negative issues, she added.
Slamming the recent media reports related to migrant Nepali workers involved in various projects for the Fifa World Cup 2022, the envoy said, œI don't like the idea that the Nepalese media is only focusing on the negative issues about Qatar. A section of the media in Nepal is saying that I am not ˜labourer friendly'.
There is a particular media network (which she did not want to name) is going against various ambassadors of my country and the government of Nepal. They were even against my appointment as the ambassador of Nepal to Qatar. The now recalled ambassador has also denied all the claims made by a controversial report published recently in the British newspaper The Guardian, œcomparing Qatar to an open jail . The Nepalese envoy firmly refuted the UK newspaper report saying that she didn't utter such words at all œneither did The Guardian interview her .
Explaining the controversial incident, the envoy said that a œfew members of The Guardian came to Qatar about two-and-a-half-months ago and met her at the embassy, but she refused to grant them an interview .
The ambassador recalled that around six months ago, about eight members of one of the leading media house in Nepal also approached her.
She alleged that œthe reporter was trying to put words into her mouth . According to the envoy, the reporter asked her, ˜Is Qatar an open jail?', and to which the envoy reportedly replied, œThose are your own words, but there is a legal system in Qatar. Later, the BBC Sajwa Sahal channel's Kantipur television aired the report, she said.
The envoy further revealed that about three months ago a joint committee meeting between the two countries was held in Qatar where the members agreed to discuss issues regarding the welfare of the Nepalese workers. œWe agreed on 15 labour related issues which will be implemented, she said, adding that through her intervention, the search and follow-up department is sending the workers back home, more smoothly.
The Nepalese ambassador admitted that her community, like any other expatriate community in any part of the world, faces problems. But, she said, that the problems must not be an obstacle for expatriates working in different countries across the globe, including this region.
The ambassador attributed the high death rates of the Nepalese workers in the region to various factors. She said, œThere are no Nepalese doctors and a majority of Nepalese expatriates cannot speak English or Arabic.
Hence, therefore, they cannot express themselves well to the physicians. Revealing the number of death cases, the ambassador said, œLast year, a total of 189 Nepalese expatriates died, while this year, up to the last quarter of September, the Nepalese embassy recorded 140 death cases. A large number of Nepalese workers die due to cardiac-related ailments, followed by road accidents, and then related to construction work. Suicide is also one of the reasons. Last year, 16 Nepali workers committed suicide. However, she said that the government of Nepal has no plans to stop Qatar from seeking labour from Nepal. œThere are about 400,000 Nepalese expatriates living in Qatar, 600,000 in Malaysia, 500,000 in Saudi Arabia, 200,000 in the UAE, 50,000, in Kuwait, and between 20,000 and 25,000 in Bahrain, she added.
According to her, 18 to 20 Nepalese expatriates dying here are aged between 20 and 23 years. In July, the number of cases was high due to road accidents. She also claimed that she had visited workers' camps belonging to a cleaning company, adding that œa majority of these companies meet the required minimum wage .
According to the ˜recalled' Nepali ambassador, her last day in office was last Thursday, and she plans œto leave Qatar some time next week .