Friday, 3 December, 2021

Stop Illegal Entry

The problem pertaining to the hordes of people seeking political or other kinds of asylum is nothing new. Civil wars, displacements, desires for having greener pastures and a few other reasons often compel people to leave their countries and opt to reside in others just to live and raise families in a peaceful environment and lead a prosperous life. The world has witnessed refugees of different natures seeking asylum in affluent countries. Lately, as the world has witnessed a sudden spate of civil war, economic backwardness and displacement owing to various reasons such as natural calamities, have taken place, the number of refugees across the globe has gone up, giving headache to the nations that have seen the influx of asylum seekers.

Nepal, a peaceful nation, has also seen in the arrival of foreign nationals, lately. Several Afghans and Rohingya Muslims arrived in Nepal, taking advantage of its porous border with India. Some decades earlier, the Nepali-speaking Bhutanese came to Nepal in droves after the then Bhutani government drove them out of its country following a pro-democratic movement there. Besides the above-mentioned nationals, Nepal has provided a safe haven to nationals from Africa and many other countries. In the case related to the recent arrival of Afghan nationals, what is irksome is the fact that our authorities had no clue how and when they entered Nepal. Ditto is true about the entry of many Burmese Rohingya refugees, some of whom are currently residing in Kathmandu.

It is alleged that the Afghan nationals had entered Nepal posing as Indian nationals as many of them had carried with them the Aadhaar Card, which is akin to the citizenship card that the Indian government provides to its citizens. Meanwhile, human traffickers smuggled many Rohingyas in Nepal from Bangladesh with the promise that the Rohingya would have an easy passage to Western countries from our country. The traffickers told the Rohingyas that the UNHCR in Nepal would hand over refugee status to them, thus enabling them to enter Europe or North America easily. The UN body looking after refugees in our country provides refugee status to all asylum seekers as soon as they visit its office in the capital.

The arrival of Afghans and Rohingya has alerted Nepali authorities, spurring them to tighten border security and check-ups. The Afghan nationals have also exposed lax security at our border entry points. As part of increasing border surveillance against such entry in coming days, the border authority, as per the instruction of the Home Minister, has started installing surveillance cameras and tightening the check-up process of identity cards of all who enter Nepal from the Indian side over land. New surveillance will help our authorities stop foreign nationals arriving here, which would assist us to avoid the extra burden of looking after these people who pose as refugees. As a signatory of the international convention on refugees, our government cannot chase them away once they enter here with valid reasons. It is, therefore, necessary to put in place surveillance against the illegal entry of foreign nationals in the garb of asylum seekers, or those who want to make Nepal a transit point to find refuge in other countries at the border entry points.