Kabul airport is still closed for commercial flights, so any repatriation has to be done in coordination with military evacuation of countries in whose embassies the Nepalis are stationed. For the others, Nepal will either have to send special flights, or arrange for repatriation via Pakistan. But the government does not even have accurate figures for the exact numbers involved.
According to the Department of Foreign Employment, more than 10,000 Nepalis obtained labour permits to work in Afghanistan in the past six years, and 2,122 of them were issued just in the last two years. Some of the Nepalis have returned, others had renewed their contracts and recently returned to Afghanistan. However, there are said to be at least 5,000 more Nepalis, mostly working as security guards in hotels, banks and other institutions in Kabul and major cities.
However, one of the Nepali security guards guarding the US Embassy who arrived in Kathmandu on Tuesday told Nepali Times the security situation in Kabul was not as bad as portrayed in the media with the videos of the airport chaos, and that Nepalis there were in no imminent danger.
“Foreign workers are safe in Kabul, in fact the Taliban have promised that they will ensure the safety of foreign workers in future when the situation returns to normal, they might call them back,” said 41-year-old Prakash Shrestha of Lamjung.
A Nepal Airlines jet has been chartered for next week by a Dubai-based recruiter to bring back 70 Nepali workers, but that would just be a small fraction of those in Afghanistan.
“There are at least 15,000 Nepalis in Afghanistan who have gone there either through legal channels or are undocumented,” estimates Sujit Shrestha of the Nepal Association of Foreign Employment Agencies (NAFEA).