------- Malaysia crackdown on migrants -----
Amal Kiran Dhakal, Nepal´s labor attaché for Malaysia, said the embassy issued travel documents to 470 workers on Sunday and 800 on Monday.
“We have distributed travel documents to around 1,300 undocumented Nepali workers in two days to facilitate their return home,” Dhakal told Republica over the phone on Monday.
The validity of the travel documents is for three months. The workers must manage to return to Nepal after arranging air tickets and making other preparations.
In response to the move by the Malaysian government against illegal migrants, undocumented Nepali workers have flocked the embassy seeking travel documents.
“Our embassy compound is swarming with undocumented Nepalis working in different parts of Malaysia who are seeking travel documents to fly back home,” said Dhakal.
Kumud Khanal, vice-president of Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA), said the Malaysian government was taking advantage of the week-long holidays in the run up to the Chinese New Year on February 4 to crack down on illegal workers.
During the holidays, foreign workers venture out for get-togethers and for travel. “The Malaysian government may have chosen the date for the crackdown to make it easier to arrest the illegals, bearing in mind their greater movement out of the workplace and their living quarters during such holidays,” said Khanal.
The grace period of three months for the illegal workers announced by the Malaysian home ministry expires on Tuesday.
According to him, 35,000- 45,000 out of some 500,000 Nepalis working in Malaysia are estimated to be there illegally.
Reacting to the growing number of foreign migrants working illegally, the Malaysian government has announced it is to launch a sweep against them from Tuesday.
However, those who are undocumented but in the process of returning to their home countries and those with travel documents and air tickets will not be arrested.
The embassy has requested all undocumented Nepalis to purchase their air tickets as soon as possible and apply for travel documents with the embassy immediately.
The Malaysian government had launched a similar crackdown on undocumented workers two years ago to discourage overstay by foreign workers.
A total of 156,770 Nepalis left for Malaysia during fiscal year 2012-2013 to look for work.