Nepalese workers flood in after ban lifted
ABU DHABI // Demand for Nepalese housemaids has increased greatly since the country lifted a ban on its nationals being employed as domestic workers in Arabian Gulf countries.
The Nepalese Embassy in Abu Dhabi says it has received an average of between four and six visa applications a day for housemaids since the ban was lifted in June last year.
The country lifted the ban after introducing tougher rules aimed at making maids less vulnerable to unscrupulous recruitment agents.
Dipak Adhikari, deputy chief of the mission, said that before the introduction of the ban in 2000, many UAE residents recruited Nepalese domestic workers through agents who used illegal channels to bring them out, and many fell into "the wrong hands".
Allegations by maids of physical and verbal abuse, harassment, and being overworked and underpaid prompted the ban.
Mr Adhikari said there were far fewer complaints since the tougher rules were introduced, and the situation in the UAE was "very satisfactory".
Anyone wishing to employ a maid from Nepal must now apply through the embassy, and submit documents including marriage certificates and family status, a deposit of Dh5,000, and ensure fixed wages of Dh900 a month, as well as food and accommodation.
Dhananjay Jha, the Nepalese ambassador to the UAE, said many employers treated their maids well and sometimes the maids were at fault.
"In such cases we call up the employers and find out answers from him about the maid's claims," Mr Jha said. "Most of the time we try to settle the matter amicably.
"We are at the mission to assist both sides for a pleasant life here in the Emirates."
He urged prospective maids to find work through their relatives and friends who were settled in the UAE, and then to process their papers through the embassy to avoid falling prey to unauthorised agents.
The embassy estimates there are about 160,000 Nepalese workers in the UAE, with about 60 per cent in Dubai and the Northern Emirates. In 2008 there were only 125,000.
The embassy believes demand is growing because of their "trustworthiness, loyalty and hard work".
Mr Adhikari said the embassy issued about 2,000 approvals a month to various companies and individuals to send Nepalese workers to the UAE, while many companies approached Nepal's department of foreign employment directly.
He said it was not unusual for some companies seeking labourers to request up to 400 workers at a time.
A Nepalese delegation recently met with peers at the Ministry of Labour to discuss how to strengthen the rights of Nepalese labourers in the Emirates.
The embassy is also working with about 50 Nepalis who are in jails across the Emirates. Most of these, Mr Adhikari said, had not been jailed for "serious crimes". "Normally they are in for small cases of consuming liquor and bouncing cheques.
"We frequently visit them and if we find they committed the crime, then the course of law has to be pursued and they need to complete jail terms.
"If they are behind bars due to a lack of documents and the mission finds that their cases are genuine, then we help them."
Updated: July 26, 2012 04:00 AM