Nepal has halted issuing foreign work permits for its citizens to work in Russia until further notice after growing numbers of Nepalese mercenaries have been reported killed fighting for the Russian army in Ukraine, Reuters reported on Jan. 5.
At least 10 Nepalis have been confirmed killed while serving in the Russian army, and as many as 200 are estimated to be fighting for Russia, according to Nepal's government. About 100 Nepalis have been reported missing.
Nepal urged the Russian government to stop recruiting Nepalese citizens into its army in December after at least six of its nationals were confirmed killed. The authorities then uncovered a domestic smuggling ring that recruited youths as foreign fighters for the Russian military.
The stop to issuing work permits is aimed at "minimizing the loss of life," the Department of Foreign Employment told Reuters. Work permits for employment in Ukraine have also been halted.
Nepalese citizens who leave the country for civilian employment abroad are required to receive a work permit from the Department of Foreign Employment.
This entitles them to state support in case of emergencies or, in case of death, compensation to their relatives.
Over 800 people were issued work permits for civilian work in Russia in the past two years, Reuters reported, citing official data. Figures for the number of work permits issued for Ukraine were not immediately available, Reuters said.
The smuggling ring that was uncovered in December charged unemployed youths up to $9,000 to travel on tourist visas to Russia to join the military, therefore avoiding the requirement for a foreign work permit.
The only foreign armies Nepalese law permits its citizens to serve in are the Indian and British armies. The British Brigade of Gurkhas, which has existed for over 200 years, comprises Nepalese fighters.
The U.K.'s Defense Ministry reported in September that Russia was trying to recruit foreigners and migrant workers to avoid announcing another mobilization drive before the presidential elections, which are to be held in 2024.