There are an estimated 3 million Nepalis working all over India, but the number could be higher since no records are kept of seasonal migrants. Officially, 40 Nepalis have died in the current Covid-19 surge in India, with 100 hospitalised, but that number is certainly much higher.
The Nepal Embassy in New Delhi has been inundated with calls for help, but has been able to do little more than issue a statement asking Nepalis in India to observe all health precautions since the hospitals are all full.
Ambassador Nilambar Acharya says he has also been lobbying with the Indian government to lift the export ban on the Covishield vaccine manufactured by Serum Institute of India.
The India connection in Nepal’s COVID-19 status, Nepali Times
India gifted Nepal 1 million doses in February, and Nepal paid for 2 million more doses, but only half the consignment arrived before India diverted vaccines to address its own emergency. Ambassador Acharya said, “The Indian government has assured us that it will put Nepal on a priority for vaccines.”
R B Khadka of the Akhil Bharat-Nepali Ekata Manch maintains a network of Nepalis all over India, and had been helping those in need since last year. But he says the scale of the crisis this time is too big to handle, adding that with the shortage of hospital beds, oxygen supply for Indians, there is little hope for Nepalis, particularly poorer migrant labourers.
“I am getting calls day and night from desperate Nepalis asking if I can arrange an oxygen cylinder, a hospital bed or for remdesivir, I have lost hope and I cannot lie to them anymore and say I will try to help,” Khadka told Nepali Times.