Lamki, June 1 : Safer Migration (SAMI) project in Kailali district has begun providing psychological counseling to the Nepali migrant workers returnees who were suffering from economic and mental issues in wake of COVID-19 crisis. As many as 60,000 people from Kailali alone have obtained labour permit and left for various labour destinations across the world. Some had returned home before the nation-wide lockdown enforced in the country while many of those at abroad were suffering the COVID-10 repercussion in their respective labour destinations. Since the COVID-19 crisis began looming large, many countries ordered lockdown, limiting the movement of people to prevent the spread of deadly infection. This left many migrant Nepali workers abroad and returnees at lurch. Some were bereft of work while some were stranded. While some feared losing job, those already kicked out of their jobs feared losing their lives to the flu-like infection or famine. Those returning home were also looked down upon by their fellow neighbours and villagers. They were stigmatized and subjected to ill treatment. Sewak Chaudhary of Janaki Rural municipality was one among them who has been traumatized in lack of fair treatment by his neighbours and fellow villagers. Chaudhary had returned home from Malaysia on the second week of March for a month long holiday. No sooner he reached his home, the federal government ordered nationwide lockdown to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Since then he has been confined to his house as the locals feared he could contract COVID-19 and infection would spread to others if they come close to him. “This social ill behavior has led me to despair. I am kind of ousted by my fellow villagers,” he bemoaned. SAMI project coordinator in Kailali district Pancharam Chaudhary shared that there were many Nepalis migrant workers abroad and returnees who needed such psychological counseling. Those returning home are also required to stay in quarantine in the first place which instills the sense of loneliness in them. Their morale seem to erode and negative thoughts were rife among them, according to the Coordinator Chaudhary. In this situation the SAMI project started providing psychological counseling in-person through telephone to those in need. “Most of the service seekers are Nepalis returning from India,” shared Chaudhary, adding that so far 120 Nepali migrant workers have received the counseling so far. SAMI, a bilateral project between government of Nepal and Government of Switzerland, focuses on the different dimensions of safer migration. The project is currently running in 153 local units of 39 districts in Nepal which intends to provide support to Nepali potential migrants including accurate and relevant information on foreign employment.