Numerically, Australia is the top overseas destination for Nepali students. Japan comes second. Which is the third?
Many will be surprised to know that it is Cyprus. In 2017-18, over 2,300 Nepalis left for Cyprus on students visas. Government records show that in the past two years, 3,304 Nepalis obtained labour approvals to work in Cyprus. There are now some 12,000 Nepalis in Cyprus, and most of them are women caregivers.
After the onset of the pandemic, more than 400 Nepalis in Cyprus signed up to return to Nepal, but the Nepal Airlines flights scheduled to bring them home have been repeatedly cancelled. The flight on 20 June has now been postponed till 3 July.
The flights were cancelled because Nepal Airlines is still in the EU blacklist for aviation safety concerns. Says a NRN-Cyprus representative: “This was such a simple oversight, since everyone knew about the EU ban on Nepali carriers.”
The repeated flight postponements caused confusion and frustration among Nepalis, especially the first lot of 85 who had rushed to buy Nepal Airlines tickets. They are now pinning their hopes on the 3 July flight on Qatar Airways.
The Kathmandu airlift begins, Upasana Khadka
The Kathmandu Airlift, Editorial
Rita is in her final year of her Master’s course in hotel management, and has decided to stay put and complete her degree. “For those of us who have been here longer, it is not as problematic and we can get by,” she told us on the phone from Nicosia. “It is the ones who came recently that are more vulnerable.”
The Cyprus government barred students who arrived in Cyprus after 10 May 2019 from working 20 hours per week, and a number of them need to return at the earliest because they have been surviving on the charity of fellow-Nepalis. Most Nepali students pay for their education from money they earn from part-time work.
A few students who spent nights in parks in Nicosia after not being able to pay rent were supported by the Nepali community. While there are landlords who have cut residents some slack by waiving or discounting the rent, not everyone is as generous.