Anup Kaphle on Nepal and Labor Migration after the Earthquake

Journalist Anup Kaphle speaks on economic migrants in the Gulf States.

The Pipeline of Dreams: Nepali Workers and the Promise and Peril of Migrant Labor

When the central passport office in Kathmandu could not handle the flux of young Nepalis coming to apply for their passports, they decided to do something that had never happened before: run the passport counter 24 hours a day. Every day, hundreds of Nepalis line up outside this office, one of the first steps for them to start a grueling journey, leaving their home and family to work as migrant laborers abroad. Nepal is now one of the leading exporters of migrant labor, supplying young men and women to the oil-rich Gulf nations and as far as Malaysia and South Korea, where they sign up for multi-year contracts to work for employers. While this has become one of the major sources of national revenue — remittances account for a quarter of the country’s GDP — it has also brought tremendous pain, with stories of death and abuse often leading to tragedy. The stories of success are often overshadowed by the grim visuals of coffins that are flown in from Malaysia and Qatar almost on a daily basis.

Why is a significant segment of any country hell bent on going abroad to work despite risks? How do they get themselves in a trap before they even set foot on the plane? And why have the migrant laborers just become numbers with little done to change their fate?

Anup Kaphle is the deputy foreign editor at ​BuzzFeed.  ​Previously he served as the digital foreign editor at The Washington Post.  He has reported from Afghanistan and Nepal, and his work has appeared in The Washington Post, Foreign Policy, The Atlantic, and the CBC among others.  His reporting on labor migration from Nepal is supported by the Pulitzer Center for Crisis Reporting.

Mr. Kaphle has an M.S. degree from Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism, where he won the Henry N. Taylor Award, given to the top international student. He was also awarded the Foreign Press Association’s first prize in 2008. He received his B.A. in English from Tusculum College in Greeneville, Tennessee.

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