ASIA NEWS NETWORK
WE KNOW ASIA BETTER
Nepali passports go missing; fear of misuse
Publication Date : 22-02-2013
Over 200 passports belonging to Nepali migrant workers, most stamped with work visas for Saudi Arabia, disappeared under mysterious circumstances while they were being brought back to the country from Bangladesh on February 8.
The owner of recruiting agency Memorial Overseas, Lok Prasad Aryal, had been carrying the passports sent by nine manpower companies. Work visas for Saudi Arabia are stamped in Bangladesh in the absence of the Gulf country’s embassy in Nepal.
“They were in my luggage when I boarded a Biman Bangladesh plane for Kathmandu. However, they were gone by the time I arrived at the Tribhuvan International Airport,” Aryal told the Post over telephone from Bangladesh.
He said there were around 110 passports with visas, 25 without them and 60 driving licences.
To save extra costs, manpower agencies usually assign one specific person to take passports back to the country after they are stamped.
Two of the nine manpower agencies in question - World Wide Manpower Agency and KL International - have claimed that at least three individuals have already entered Saudi Arabia with the lost passports.
“We have confirmed that two individuals have entered Saudi with the lost passports processed by our agency,” Pushpa Bhandari, the owner of World Wide International, communicated to the Post from Dhaka. According to him, trans-national human traffickers may have gotten hold of the passports and that have used them to smuggle Bangladeshis into Saudi Arabia.
The other lost passports were processed by Memorial Overseas Services, Nabil Overseas, Meridian Overseas, Oxford Management System Pvt Ltd, Friendship Manpower Cosultancy, Equator International and Al-Summit Manpower.
Manpower agencies claim the human traffickers pay around 150,000 Nepalese rupees (US$1,695) for a Nepali passport . They say they have often found passports with visas beingsold to Bangladeshi nationals for 600,000 Bangladeshi taka (US$7,435).
Nepal police have arrested over 100 Bangladeshi nationals in the past few months for misusing Nepali passports.
According to the police, foreign nationals with criminal records tend to steal passports of different nations and different routes.
Aryal has not informed the Nepali mission in Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Department of Foreign Employment of the situation.
“I have informed only the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA) of the matter. I will inform all the offices concerned by Sunday,” said Aryal.
US$1=88.4 Nepalese rupees