How Nepalis came to be the world's security guards

Fourteen Nepali security guards working for the Canadian Embassy in Kabul were killed in a bomb attack on the bus they were travelling in.

Published: 20th June 2016 08:41 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th June 2016 08:41 PM   |  A+A-

By AFP

KATHMANDU: Fourteen Nepali security guards working for the Canadian Embassy in Kabul were killed Monday in a bomb attack on the bus they were travelling in.

Here are five things to know about the thousands of Nepalis who work in the security industry around the world.

Why do Nepalis do dangerous work abroad?

Because they struggle to find jobs at home. Nepal is one of the world's poorest countries with very high levels of unemployment, a situation made worse by last year's deadly earthquake. Remittances from migrant workers abroad make up about 30 percent of the country's gross domestic product.

How did the trend start?

Nepal has a long history of providing Gurkha soldiers to the British army, where they can earn much more than for serving in their own army.

After the break-up of the British empire, several newly independent countries including India and Singapore retained the tradition of hiring Nepalis to serve as soldiers and police officers.

Today, private security companies around the world also hire Nepalis to guard embassies and private offices.

What is their reputation?

The Gurkhas have a reputation for fearlessness on the battlefield and unwavering loyalty to their employers.

Former Indian Army chief of staff Sam Manekshaw is reported to have said: "If a man says he is not afraid of dying, he is either lying or is a Gurkha".

Where do they work?

In Kabul alone 3,300 are currently employed as security guards. They are also in high demand in the Middle East, and in Malaysia where private security companies are only allowed to hire Malaysians or Nepalis.

Who are they?

Some are retired Gurkhas, but many are former soldiers with the Nepal army. There are also serving soldiers with the national army deployed to provide security to UN missions in countries in conflict. Currently, Nepal has 245 troops protecting the UN mission in Iraq and has been recently asked to supply forces to the mission in Libya.

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