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By Muazzam Khan

Nepal scheduled to sign labor pact to send nurses to Britain. The Royal College of Nursing has estimated that the average annual salary of a registered nurse in the UK is £33,384, or Rs5.07 million as per Friday’s exchange rate. Nepali nurses will be permitted to work in Britain under a bilateral labor agreement the two governments are slated to sign next week.

A cabinet meeting held on June 14 gave the green signal to the government to conclude the deal allowing Nepal to send nurses to the United Kingdom. It is one of the finest proposals that Nepal has received in the labor sector, under-secretary at the Foreign Employment Management Section of the Ministry of Labor, Employment and Social Security.

The details, including the qualifications for Nepali nurses to be eligible to work in the UK, is yet to be unveiled. However, that nurses under the age of 45 years with at least two years of professional practice meet the rudimentary requirement.

All candidates will need to score 7 in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) or B plus in Occupational English Test (OET). Hopeful Nepali nurses will have to appear in the UK’s Nursing and Midwifery Council examination within three months after being selected to obtain the status of a nurse.

Those who fail to clear the examination three times will not be eligible to become a nurse in the UK. Before acquiring the status of a nurse, they will serve as an assistant nurse. After clearing the council’s examination, Nepali nurses will receive the same salary as their British counterparts.

The Royal College of Nursing has estimated that the average annual salary of a registered nurse in the UK is £33,384, or Rs5.07 million as per Friday’s exchange rate. The National Health Service pay for nurses is around different bandings.

Afresh trained, registered nurses start at Band 5, and the most qualified and experienced nursing consultants and specialists can climb all the way to the uppermost pay band, which is Band 9. The starting salary for a Band 5 Nurse was £25,655 or Rs3.89 million as of February-end. While it is a good opportunity for Nepali nurses to work in the UK, we have to consider its impact on Nepal’s health sector.

Given the opportunities of Nepali nurses finding jobs in more foreign countries in the coming days, Nepal need to raise the possibility of nursing education in Nepal. It is a challenge for Nepal while sending them abroad and also keeping a balance of nurses inside the country.

At the moment, Nepali nurses have been complaining about their pay structure in Nepal, which they say is labor misuse. In Nepal, hospitals hardly pay Rs15, 000 monthly. According to the Nepal Nursing Council, 68,316 nurses, 36,446 supplementary nurse midwives, 845 foreign nurses, 598 specialists and 28 midwives were registered in Nepal as of March 27 but there is no data on the number of unemployed nurses.

Although, working abroad has both challenges and opportunities. There is, of course, a learning opportunity. If these nurses return to Nepal after working in the UK, it will boost the efficiency of the health sector. Numerous nurses in Nepal are jobless, and those with a job too do not earn enough to endure themselves and their families. If they get a chance to work in the UK, they will definitely not only earn foreign exchange but also bring prosperities to their own families.

However, the nurses should be sent in such a way that it will not disturb the health sector in Nepal. The government should consider the long-term impacts. Full information about the necessities for nurses to be qualified to apply to work in the UK will be known when the Foreign Employment Board publishes a notice calling for applications after receiving a demand for nurses from the UK government.

The information concerning the quantity and kinds of nurses the UK will demand is also yet to be identified. The nurses will be sent only after holding deliberations with the related shareholders such as the Health Ministry, Education Ministry and Nursing Council among others.

The government desires the nurses to return to Nepal after completing their tenure in the UK. In order to avert them from permanently settling there, the government of Nepal will only grant labor consent for five years. The labor authorization will be given for five years, and the nurses will have to return to Nepal after completing their tenure.

It is a zero-cost job since the employer will bear all the costs. “Even the cost of the IELTS or OET is refundable. Currently the ministry is developing a web portal for the online application process. The government of Nepal will have no hand in the selection process.

Apart from sending nurses to foreign countries, the government needs to work on refining the condition of the nursing sector in the country. The nurses, particularly in rural areas, are working in deprived circumstances. The government must progress the employed conditions there. And more vacancies need to be opened in diverse sectors where nurses are needed. If the agreement is signed, the UK will be the 11th country with which Nepal has inked labor agreements. The government of the Maldives too has shown interest in hiring Nepali nurses. We are trying to sign a bilateral agreement with the Maldives.

Similarly, Japan opened up its labor market to Nepalese as specified skilled workers in March 2019 after the two countries signed a memorandum of cooperation to send Nepali workers with the status of residence.

Japan will recruit Nepalese in 14 sectors as per the memorandum of cooperation. Key sectors include nursing care, agriculture, food and beverage manufacturing, and the food service industry. Since last month, Nepalese have started to be hired in nursing care jobs. Moreover the nursing sector, the prospects of Nepalese going to work in the UK in other sectors in the coming days depend on Nepal’s diplomatic mediation skill.

WASHINGTON, 24 June 2022, (TON): The United States will send another $450 million in military aid to Ukraine, including some additional medium-range rocket systems, to help push back Russian progress in the war, officials announced.

The latest package includes four High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, which will double the number they have now.

All four were prepositioned in Europe, and training on those systems has already begun with the Ukrainian troops who will use them, said Marine Corps Lt. Col. Anton Semelroth, a Pentagon spokesman. The first four HIMARS that the US previously sent have already gone to the battlefield in Ukraine and are in the hands of troops there.

According to the Pentagon “the aid also includes 18 tactical vehicles that are used to tow howitzers, so the weapons can be moved around the battlefield, as well as 18 coastal and riverine patrol boats, thousands of machine guns, grenade launchers and rounds of ammunition, and some other equipment and spare parts.”

The new aid comes just a week after the US announced it was sending $1 billion in military aid to Ukraine, and as the Russian military continues to slowly expand its control in the eastern Donbas region.

ANKARA, 24 June 2022, (TON): Firefighting crews battle for a third day a wind-driven wildfire that has blackened swaths of pine forest near a popular resort in southwestern Turkey and driven dozens of people from their homes.

More than 2,500 firefighters, aided by water-dropping planes and helicopters, were deployed to fight the blaze that erupted on Tuesday in the Bordubet region, near Marmaris on the Aegean Sea coast.

The blaze spread rapidly, fanned by winds.

According to the office of the mayor for the Mugla region “fires were raging in three locations around Bordubet, but had been brought under control at a fourth location.”

The municipality said “Authorities have evacuated close to 275 people from the area as a precaution.”

WASHINGTON, 24 June 2022, (TON): Leader of the free world sounds like a superhero character, but the Joe Biden heading this week to twin European summits is in reality a politically fragile president tasked, somehow, with resolving an unenviable string of diplomatic problems.

Biden arrives in Germany for the G7 summit of major Western powers, followed next week by the NATO military alliance summit in Madrid.

Both sessions will take place in the shadow of Russia’s Ukraine invasion, but also a global surge in inflation, fears of recession, and the ever-growing challenge of containing China while avoiding open conflict.

According to a senior US official “for sure, Biden will tout the success of a monumental effort to rally the West and breathe new life into NATO a high water mark in transatlantic solidarity in the post-Cold War period.”

ANKARA, 24 June 2022, (TON): Turkey and Israel have begun work on restoring their mutual diplomatic representation to ambassador level, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said as the two countries seek an end to more than a decade of strained ties.

The two countries expelled ambassadors in 2018 and have often traded barbs over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Energy has emerged as a key area for potential cooperation as they strive to mend their relations.

Cavusoglu said at a news conference “we will continue the high-level mutual visits in the short term.”

Lapid was visiting Ankara after months of warming ties but amid worries voiced by Israel that its citizens could come under attack by Iranian agents in Turkey, a NATO member state.

WASHINGTON: The White House said “the NATO alliance’s new strategic concept reflects concerns about China, including its economic practices.”

John Kirby, US National Security Council coordinator said “less than a year ago, the defense ministers for the first time in NATO put mention of China in the communique.”

“So it’s building on what has been once discussions and deliberations with the allies about the threat that China poses to international security, well beyond just the Indo-Pacific region.”

President Joe Biden leaves to meet with other G7 leaders in southern Germany before heading to Madrid for a summit.

TRIPOLI, 24 June 2022, (TON): The United Nations said “it will broker new talks between rival institutions from war-torn Libya next week to try to break a deadlock on the rules for long-awaited elections.”

Parliament speaker Aguila Saleh and President of the High Council of State Khaled Al-Mishri have accepted my invitation to meet at the UN Office at Geneva 28-29 June to discuss the draft constitutional framework for elections, the UNs top Libya official Stephanie Williams tweeted.

I commend the heads of the two chambers for committing to seek consensus on the remaining issues after last weeks Joint Committee meeting in Cairo.

Presidential and parliamentary elections, originally set for December last year, were meant to cap a UN-led peace process following the end of the last major round of violence in 2020.

TUNIS, 24 June 2022, (TON): The head of Tunisias powerful UGTT trade union confederation rejected conditions set by the International Monetary Fund for a new loan to bail out the countrys struggling economy.

Noureddine Taboubi told reporters “we reject the conditions set by the IMF, given Tunisians low salaries, lack of means, rising poverty and unemployment.”

The global lender has called for ambitious reforms to tackle the heavily indebted countrys public finances and reform its state-owned companies.

The IMFs regional chief Jihad Azour said Wednesday that the fund was set to begin formal talks on a new financial aid package in the coming weeks, saying the economic fallout from the Ukraine war made it ever more pressing.

BRUSSELS, 24 June 2022, (TON): European Union leaders on Thursday agreed to grant candidate status to Ukraine and Moldova, in a show of support in the face of Russias war.

A historic moment. Today marks a crucial step on your path toward the EU, Michel wrote on Twitter during a summit in Brussels.

Our future is together.

Ukraine applied to become an EU candidate in a bid to cement its place in Europe just days after Moscow launched its devastating invasion.

Frances President Emmanuel Macron said the move sent a very strong signal to the Kremlin that the EU backs the pro-Western aspirations of Ukraine.

He said “we owe it to the Ukrainian people who are fighting to defend our values, their sovereignty, their territorial integrity.”

STOCKHOLM, 24 June 2022, (TON): Swedens foreign ministry has advised its citizens against traveling to Iran ahead of the conclusion of a trial that has soured relations between the two countries.

The ministry said in a statement “due to the security situation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs advises against all travel to Iran.”

Relations between the two countries soured after Sweden put on trial a former Iranian official on charges of war crimes for the mass execution and torture of political prisoners at an Iranian prison in the 1980s.

The verdict is due on July 14.

In turn, Sweden has strongly condemned the death sentence of Ahmadreza Djalali, a Swedish-Iranian disaster medicine researcher that Iran has accused of spying for Israel.

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