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ACAPS Briefing note – Nepal: COVID-19 & the return of migrants (12 June 2020)

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Crisis Impact Overview

• Many migrant workers, most of them from Nepal, lost their employment when the Indian government imposed a strict lockdown on 25 March to contain the spread of COVID-19 (Aljazeera, 10/06/2020) With the easing of the lockdown, 600,000 migrant workers are expected to return to Nepal in the coming weeks and may weaken the effectiveness of Nepal’s COVID-19 mitigation measures. In March alone, around 500,000 people crossed the border from India without any screening or other measures applied. (Flood Resilience Alliance, 01/06/2020)

• Detailed information on the number of migrants passing through major Points of Entry to Nepal is not available, but as of 1 June more than 40,000 people have returned to the districts of Kanchanpur, Doti,
Achham, Banke e Dailkeh. (DCA ACT alliance, 01/06/2020)

• Cases of COVID-19 are on the rise in Nepal. On June 9, Nepal recorded 3,762 confirmed cases and 14 deaths. More than 160,000 people are in quarantine, most are migrant returnees. If cases increase further, the national health system will likely be unable to handle the response, with only three beds per 1,000 inhabitants, lacking human resources and essential equipment. (Flood Resilience Alliance, 01/06/2020)

• Local authorities have established quarantine sites countrywide in order to prevent COVID-19 outbreak. All those returning to Nepal are accompanied to quarantine camps until the completion of their 14 days of quarantine. (Aljazeera, 10/06/2020) There are unconfirmed reports that quarantine camps lack basic facilities including water, hygiene facilities, food and bedding following the increasing number of returning Nepalese migrant workers.