Ninety percent of Nepal’s overseas contract workers are in West Asia and Malaysia, but there are other countries like the Maldives where the estimated 5-10,000 Nepalis employed in the tourism industry have been affected by the global pandemic.
The resorts of this atoll archipelago nation have been increasingly popular for Nepali workers, who have built a strong reputation for work ethics there. Last year alone 2,000 Nepali workers left of the Maldives, nearly four times more than in 2015, to work in hotels and as housemaids.
But some of these jobs are in jeopardy because of the pandemic. Of the 191 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Maldives, over 102 are foreigners including 84 Bangladeshis and 10 Indians. Nepalis have so far been spared, but there is a fear they could be vulnerable because of cramped living conditions.
“Overall, Nepalis have created a favorable impression in the Maldives, but tourism has collapsed because of the coronavirus and Nepali workers have been affected,” says Rita, who has been working in the Maldives for four years, and only wanted her first name used.