Bournemouth University (BU) is working alongside partner organisations on a $4 million international research project to address trafficking among Nepali labour migrants.
Alongside La Isla Network, the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health and Nepal Development Society, the project is looking to create interventions to highlight this important issue and protect labour migrants moving internationally in search of work from being exploited.
People in Nepal have relied on migrant labour as a viable work option, despite its dangers, however attention has not always been directed to the issue, much less so the action and resources to intervene.
That began to change in 2010, when Qatar won the right to host the 2022 FIFA World Cup. Migrant workers constituted the workforce needed to build the infrastructure for the World Cup. Nepali migrant workers formed the largest share of that workforce. In 2020 alone, 30,000 migrant workers from Nepal went to Qatar.
That kind of work is essential to Nepalis willing to do it, but it came at a high cost for many. Even with a plethora of laws regulating recruitment and work conditions, Nepali migrant laborers faced extreme heat for hours on end.
Between 2011 and 2020, an estimated 6,500 migrant labourers died, including 1,641 Nepali migrant workers, making it the deadliest sporting event construction project in recent memory. Further research has been conducted which has shown that Nepali migrant workers are also at risk of other health issues, such as kidney injury.
Dr. Pramod Regmi, Principal Academic in International Health at BU said, “Our interdisciplinary team at BU are very excited to work with our US and Nepali colleagues to develop feasible and culturally appropriate interventions that will help reduce risk, harm, and vulnerability to labour migrants and their communities.
Dr. Nirmal Aryal, researcher in BU’s Faculty of Health & Social Sciences added: “This grant builds on our previous research on the health and wellbeing of Nepali migrant workers.”
CEO and co-founder of La Isla Network Jason Glaser said, “This cooperative agreement allows us to ask and answer important questions. What health and socioeconomic factors put workers at risk of trafficking, and subsequent labour exploitation? What are the impact of those adverse situations on them, their families and their communities? What about the large-scale burden this puts on countries that rely on fair and just international labour markets? Finally, what can we do about it? Because our goal here is to protect lives and livelihoods.”
For Dinesh Neupane, scientist at Johns Hopkins and Founding Chairperson of Nepal Development Society, the issue hits close to home. “Every day, Nepali migrant workers are losing their lives abroad, and the arrival of their coffins has tragically become an all-too-familiar occurrence at Nepal’s Tribhuvan International Airport. Hundreds of thousands of Nepali migrant workers fall victim to trafficking each year, leading to dire outcomes such as illness, injury, and even death. The drive to prevent these entirely avoidable deaths and disabilities has always been close to my heart.”
The work is funded by a $4 million cooperative agreement awarded by the U.S. Department of State’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons, International Programs.
For more information, contact La Isla Network via email at [email protected]