Som Prasad Lamichhane

Founder of Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee (PNCC)

Active in Country: Nepal 

DTP Alumnus: 2014 Migrant Workers Program - Kuwait and 2013 MW Nepal Modules 1-5 - Nepal

The issue of migrant workers in Nepal is a significant social and political issue. Over two million Nepalese men and women work abroad other than India. As of 2014, Malaysia had become the destination country with the largest number of Nepali migrants, followed by Saudi Arabia. Som is the founder of Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee (PNCC), which is a returning migrant’s organisation. PNCC was established as a consequence of his experience of working in Saudi Arabia for five years from 2003-2008. Whilst living in Saudi, Som witnessed many Nepalese migrant workers who were being abused or exploited and they did not know how or where to seek help. Unfamiliarity with avenues of assistance available in Saudi was a significant issue for migrant workers. Som established PNCC on this basis and the organisation now assists many Nepalese migrant workers in Saudi Arabia.  PNCC has also expanded and now has two additional outreach offices in Qatar and Malaysia, which allows assistance to be more targeted and practical.

PNCC was established with the idea of simply providing information to migrant workers and their families. However, the direction of their work has changed in recent years and now they offer support at a more practical level. PNCC has started RRM - 'Rapid Response Mechanism' which offers support to distressed migrant workers and their families. Many of the migrant workers families seek the assistance of PNCC to either rescue a migrant worker or to recover the deceased’s body from the destination country. PNCC has also established a shelter house for male returnee migrant workers in Nepal. Moreover, PNCC works with other regional organisations to advocate for the rights of migrant workers. Recently Som sent 34 individual cases related to the health of migrant workers in Malaysia to the Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA), who are currently working on a special report on health issues.

At present, Nepal ratifying the CMW is not a priority advocacy objective for PNCC, due to political and procedural limitations. Nepal does not have an established government and the current constitution making process has been ongoing for seven years. Although PNCC has raised the issue of ratification during consultations and conferences with government, it is not easy to advocate on this issue. Som asserts that once the constitution and government are more effective, it will be significantly easier to lobby the government to ratify, especially as PNCC has a positive relationship with the Foreign Ministry and the Labour Ministry. Although ratification is important, at present Som remains focused on developing small scale, practical avenues of assistance for migrant workers and their families. 

 

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