BY RAM KHATRY I 5 MARCH 2020 I Nepalese youths in the prime of their life, treacherous Australian waters, seemingly avoidable drowning deaths and heartbroken families back in Nepal – such tragedies have unfortunately become all too familiar for the tight-knit diaspora.
Nekit Shrestha has become the 5th Nepalese national to perish in Australian waters this year – in just two months. The young student died while enjoying in the water at Queensland’s Stradbroke Island, NRNA Queensland’s coordinator Umesh Khadka confirmed with his deep sympathies for the bereaved Shrestha family back in Nepal.
Mr Khadka said the drowning victim, who arrived in Australia mid 2019, was the only child of the devastated parents.
Mr Shrestha had completed his first semester at the Federation University, it is understood.
Way too many Nepalese students, proportionately-speaking, are dying in Australia due to an obvious lack of water safety awareness.
Nepal is a landlocked country where swimming and water activities are not as common as in Australia.
Data from the Embassy of Nepal in Canberra shows an extremely frightening trend around water fatalities of international students from Nepal.
Deputy Chief of Mission at the Nepalese embassy, Durapada Sapkota, has expressed serious concern at the number of Nepalese students losing their lives in Australian waters. “As data shows, it has become a serious issue and we are extremely worried about it. We request all, especially the new-comers, to follow beach-safety measures – which is very important to know before going into water,” the Deputy Chief of Mission told southasia.com.au.
According to the embassy, 12 Nepalese youths have died in Australian waters since 2016. There were three drowning deaths last year while five have already lost their lives this year.
Whereas 12 is not a big number from Australia’s national perspective, it is frighteningly concerning when one realises that there were only 53,723 Nepalese students in Australia as of last December, latest Australian government data shows.
Yesterday’s drowning death of Nekit Shrestha, just 20 years of age, has shocked the Nepalese communities in Queensland as well as rest of the country with the tragic news spreading quick Thursday afternoon through social media platforms.
Loss of so many young lives of his compatriots both frustrates and saddens the Nepalese ambassador to Australia, Mahesh Raj Dahal.
Speaking to southasia.com.au in the first week of January when three people of Nepalese origin lost their lives in a matter of days, Mr Dahal had expressed frustration that those tragedies occurred despite renewed efforts by his office to spread water safety awareness among Nepalese youths living and studying in Australia.
“Only recently, we supported and participated in a programme with a view to build water safety awareness among students,” the Nepalese envoy had said at the time, “We must all work together to get the message across that they must not enter water if they are not aware of the inherent risks (of Australian waters).”
He said the tendency to jump in the moment they see water, even when they are under the influence of alcohol, was harming young lives. This must stop, he urged.