Curb Human Trafficking


Bini Dahal

For a country whose 61.96 per cent of the population are considered to be working population (aged ranging from 15 to 59 years), Nepal has not been able to fully utilise its demographic dividend. Finding a job is not easy for many. This is evident from the significant migration of Nepali youths abroad. Numerous foreign nations have become a ground for those youths to look for opportunities. But at the same time, it has also posed as a ground for struggle, distraught and even peril. 

Recent media reports have it that six Nepali youths have lost their lives while fighting for the Russian army in the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. Videos have circulated online showing a Nepali soldier under the control of the Ukrainian army. The war that broke out in 2022 has been taking place at a full scale for nearly 22 months. Nepal’s policy does not allow its citizens to be a part of any foreign military services, except for the Indian and British armies, with which the country has signed a tripartite agreement. 

The Nepal government is demanding that the Russian government do not use its citizens as mercenaries in the war. Also, it has asked Russia to compensate the families of the victims. It is reported that the Nepali Embassy based in Russia is requesting Nepali citizens to not be a part of the army and return home. Russian President Vladimir Putin had apparently signed a decree signalling that foreigners who signed a contract to join its army for at least one year would be able to easily receive citizenship. 

Now this decree and the luring that a certain amount of money would be paid must have attracted the attention of the Nepali youths. A war-zone basically equals danger, wound and deaths. Despite knowing the gravity of the situation, these people have put their lives in danger just so that their livelihood can improve. Cashing in on this same sentiment, a gang of human traffickers has been found involved in the act of sending Nepali people to Russia to be recruited in its army. The police have arrested a dozen individuals who are said to have trafficked the youths to Russia via the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

Besides the recruitment, these individuals also arranged documents and visiting visas for those job-seeking youths. It is said that they had charged a whopping amount of up to US$ 9,000 from each person. The Nepal police has termed it an organised human trafficking. Nepal is such a nation that has no relation or involvement whatsoever in the war. But Nepali citizens are dying there. This is a pathetic situation that reflects our own weaknesses as well. The core issue is a lack of employment opportunities that has pushed desperate youths to do something by hook or by crook. Second is our less effective diplomacy. 

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and Nepali diplomatic missions should be more than proactive in keeping track of its citizens in any foreign land.  But it is our habit that we act only after something bad happens. Third is our inability to crack down on organised crimes and those who are involved in them. The police have surely identified the traffickers and put them in custody for further investigation. However, our justice system should be strong enough to punish and prevent repetition of any such events in the future. This incident is a big reminder for the government to take tougher steps and strengthen its position when it comes to its citizens.

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