IOM, in coordination with key stakeholders, seeks to support the strengthening of national, provincial and local governance structures which enable vulnerable communities, including migrants and displaced populations, to be better prepared, protected and have sustainable recovery and increased resilience to crises, climate change, and the impact of COVID-19 pandemic.
The Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2006 restored peace, promulgated a new constitution, and the Government of Nepal introduced the Interim Relief Program (IRP) in 2008, providing cash and non-cash benefits to those that suffered gross human rights violation during the conflict period. Yet, IRP excluded victims of torture and survivors of sexual violence, and, the government is yet to make progress on redressing the violations committed during the conflict time.
Nepal is among the most disaster-prone countries globally, and the entire population is at risk of natural hazards and climate change impacts. Past disasters have caused large-scale migration flows, including displacement, relocation of affected families and have also exposed the affected populations to significant and varied vulnerabilities. The decentralization of power to provincial and local governments has provided an opportunity to address these situations through localization of Disaster Risk Reduction and Management policies.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had an enormous impact on Nepali migrant workers. By end of December 2020, about 200,000 people returned home via rescue flights coordinated by the Government of Nepal. It is estimated that about 1 million Nepalis have returned to Nepal through land and airports during the pandemic. To support the government in addressing the protection concerns – IOM Nepal supported the return of vulnerable migrants, provided immediate cash assistance and recovery support to the returnee migrants in vulnerable situations to support their early recovery and livelihoods opportunities. IOM Nepal also supported the National Planning Commission of Nepal in their initiative to come out with a report on the impact of the pandemic through a study on vulnerabilities, protection concerns, social protection and reintegration plan of the migrant workers.
Nepal’s fragile health system is struggling to manage the rising cases, especially in screening and testing many of the community cases and accommodating treatment at the available (limited) health facilities unable to provide necessary services to those who are in dire need of health services, especially for the isolation of cases in the dedicated isolation facilities, alongside minimal care and intensive lifesaving support or critical care services. Lack of adequate risk communication and community engagement measures has further intensified stigma and discrimination projected towards migrants. Points of entry are not equipped with basic health screening infrastructure, including basic infection prevention and control measures.
Hence, preparedness, appropriate response measures and building resilience, aligning with the SDGs and globally agreed goals are critical areas for programming to improve the lives of migrants and displacement affected populations in Nepal.