Nepalese deaths in UAE 'have dropped'
ABU DHABI // There has been a significant drop in the number of deaths of Nepalese nationals in the UAE, says Nepal's new ambassador.
Dhananjay Jha has promised to ensure better living conditions for Nepalis and enhance relations between the Emirates and Nepal.
Embassy records show there were 88 Nepalese deaths in the UAE in 2010, of which 12 were suicides.
Last year there were 67 deaths, of which 11 were suicides.
Twenty deaths have been reported in the first four months of this year, two of them suicides.
If those rates hold, there would be 60 deaths and six suicides over all of 2012.
"The government of Nepal provides pre-departure orientation programmes to workers heading overseas to educate them about the culture, climate, rights and working conditions of the country they head to," Mr Jha said.
LB Chhetry, the first secretary at the embassy, attributed the suicides to debt and financial burdens at home.
He said many Nepalese expatriate workers were surprised by the cost of living in the Emirates, and disappointed by how little they were able to save.
But he said that the number of suicides was reduced after new rules for the recruitment of housemaids and labourers were introduced, and since the embassy started distributing informative leaflets.
"Every day we receive five to 10 complaints at the mission, while many we solve communicating them over phone," he said.
"Previously we had many complaints from them."
Mr Jha said the UAE had become a favourite destination for Nepalis, who used to prefer Iraq, Malaysia, Singapore and other Asian destinations.
He said more workers were being attracted to the UAE's labour policies.
The embassy estimates that there are about 160,000 Nepalis in the country, with about 60 per cent in Dubai and the Northern Emirates and the rest in Abu Dhabi.
They work in sectors including hospitality, engineering, construction, security and domestic services.
Mr Jha said more Nepalis are arriving to take skilled and semi-skilled positions.
"Generally we issue approval for around 2,000 workers per month," Mr Jha said. "This number fluctuates as per the demand of the companies.
"Our government has toughened the recruitment of workers overseas, so now companies have to process it through the mission."
The Nepalese government has also introduced stricter rules on recruiting housemaids and fixed their minimum wages, Mr Jha said.
"Those housemaids who come to the region from different improper channels mostly land in problems. They come on visit visas and stay here," he said.
"That's why we fixed a Dh700 minimum wage for them including free insurance, health card, food and accommodation."
Mr Jha said that a married man wishing to recruit a Nepalese maid had to produce a marriage certificate and a deposit of Dh5,000, to be repaid at the end of the maid's service.
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Updated: May 1, 2012 04:00 AM