Saturday, 6 March, 2021
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EDITORIAL

Resumption of Rescue Flights



The government's latest decision to resume rescue flights to bring in Nepalis stranded in several labour destinations must have come as a relief to all the migrant workers stuck in foreign land where situation has turned hostile after the outbreak of the coronavirus. Many of them have lost their jobs due mainly to the shutting down of companies and businesses after the COVID-19 outbreak which spread in the proportion of a pandemic. Several of them wanted to return home as they were forced to live under dangerous circumstances abroad during this difficult time. Safer environs at home and the love of families must have goaded them to return home.
However, owing to the suspension in the earlier rescue of the migrant workers led to a halt in flights flying from Nepal to their respective countries of employment. After the suspension of the rescue operations, they had no option but to stay there and count days for the resumption of rescue flights. The government had earlier conducted several rescue flights to many labour destinations and other countries, but had to suspend them owing to lack of quarantine facilities in Kathmandu and other parts of the nation required to manage the returnees following the pandemic. The suspension of flights, needless to say, had frustrated the Nepalis who wanted to fly back to Nepal as early as possible.
The other day the government decided to resume rescue flights after introducing new measures to manage the returnees. Several foreign airlines and Nepal's national flag carrier, Nepal Airlines Corporation (NAC), as well as private airline, Himalaya Airlines, were given permission to conduct flights to bring back Nepali workers from many labour destinations that included several countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Malaysia and South Korea where a bulk of Nepali migrant workers stay and work. The new arrangements for the rescue flights have included management of hotel quarantines for the rescued migrant workers. Also, those having the negative PCR reports would be allowed to travel to Nepal. If a traveller does not possess the negative report, then the concerned airlines need to keep the person in quarantine for at least a week at their own expenses.
The resumption of rescue flights after managing hotel quarantines is indeed a laudable move on the part of the government. It has undoubtedly brought much needed relief to the Nepali workers, who wanted to come home but were not able to do so due to lack of flights. The rescue operations will make the workers' kith and kin in Nepal happier. As per the new arrangements, those who can afford to stay at hotel quarantines at their own expenses can now travel to Nepal while those who have negative PCR reports may not require to stay in these quarantines. There are many workers who are not infected with the virus disease but willing to return home owing to the difficulties posed by the pandemic outbreak in the countries they have been working. Also, the government has decided to bear the cost of flights of those Nepali labourers who lack means to pay for their air tickets. These humanitarian measures of the government deserve appreciation from all. 

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