Nepal is losing young men to Russia's war in Ukraine – DW – 04/03/2024 – DW (English)

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Nepal has become a recruiting ground for Russia’s war against Ukraine. Thousands of young men have left the impoverished South Asian nation to join Russia’s army — and are reportedly sent to the front lines with little or no training.
[Video transcript]
Suman is at this temple to thank God for saving his life in a war a world away.
He suffers from nightmares, deeply traumatized by what he experienced on the frontlines in Ukraine.
(Suman Rai, former fighter)
“Nobody cares about the dead in Russia. The life of the injured depends upon the seriousness of the wound. If treatment is possible, we rescue them. Otherwise, we were instructed to shoot the seriously injured soldiers where they lay.”
Suman managed to escape. Most others do not.
He paid around 3,000 euros to a Russian agent who helped him to flee and get back home. Now he is burdened with heavy debt.
Since his return, he has been jobless.
Desperate to find work, he is ready to be a daily wager.
“Brother, do you have any work?”
(Shopkeeper) “Now we don’t have any work for you.”
It is not a lucky day for him.
Nepal’s economic situation is grim. Unemployment is high and inflation is soaring. The country depends on remittances sent home by millions who work abroad. Some are ready to take risky options — often lured by false promises of brokers and recruitment agents.
(Adil Bhat, DW correspondent)
“In Nepal, hundreds of families worry about the fate of their loved ones who joined the Russian army. They have been out of contact with them over months now. Of those confirmed dead, their families struggle to get their dead bodies. This country is gradually turning into a site of loss and despair.”
Nepal’s former foreign minister, who was in office until recently, told DW he had tried to persuade Russian officials to stop recruiting Nepalese nationals — in vain. 
(N.P. Saud, former foreign minister, Nepal) 
“I would like to express my concern about the enlistment of our citizens in the armed forces of a nation with which we lack an official pact or treaty to do so. Their recruitment of our citizens implies that it happens with the knowledge of the Russian government.”
In a village outside Kathmandu, this family mourns the loss of a son and husband. 
Purna Bahadur was killed three months ago in a battle on the Ukrainian frontlines. He had received barely two weeks of training before being sent off to fight.
A fellow Nepalese soldier called his wife Lilu to convey the shocking message.
(Lilu Gurung, widow) 
“When I heard the news of my husband’s death, I felt like jumping from a cliff and ending my life. It took me weeks after hearing the news to actually believe it. I couldn’t believe that he is no more, and I still feel like I may receive his call.”
But that call, she knows, will never come. The family don’t even know whether they’ll get his body for a proper burial.
Lilu Gurung now carries more than her grief — she also has to deal with a debt of 6,000 euros that her husband paid an agent to take him to Russia in the first place.
Back in Kathmandu, Suman fears an uncertain future, scarred from his experience in a foreign war. Many others are still stuck in that war, unsure if they’ll ever get home — dead or alive. 


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