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Nepalese expats in UAE fearful for family caught up in Indian rupee chaos

ABU DHABI // Nepalese expatriates are worried that friends and family at home are being caught up in the currency crisis engulfing India.

India and Nepal share a border and travel between them is free and easy, meaning many Nepalis who earn or accept Indian rupees are struggling to exchange their 500 and 1,000 notes since the bills were withdrawn on November 8.

“We don’t have big problem here but families and many people in Nepal who live next to the Indian border face big problems,” said Bhupendra Basnet, who works in Abu Dhabi.

“Our families back home possess Indian currency and they don’t have any options. Small businesses who gladly used to trade in Indian currency are now on the verge of losing their hard-earned money.”

The Nepal central bank has asked the Reserve Bank of India to give Nepalis enough time to exchange their bills for the new legal tender. Indians have until December 30 to change their notes, although that may be extended.

The Nepalese bank says there are about 35 million rupees of 500 and 1,000-rupee notes in circulation in Nepal.

Sudip Karki, who works in Ras Al Khaimah, has about 8,000 Indian rupees that he fears could soon be worthless.

“I always go to India and I get some dirhams exchanged into Indian currency,” Mr Karki said. “In Nepal, the Indian currency is very much prevalent.”

Suresh Nagarkoti from Kathmandu said he was worried how people were making ends meet back home.

“I am afraid how people will be managing their daily needs,” Mr Nagarkoti said. “I have seen on social media long queues in front of banks in India.

“There are many who are suffering under this currency crisis. We are poor people and have hard-earned money, it needs to exchanged.

Krishna Aryal, second secretary and information officer at the Nepal embassy in Abu Dhabi, said the situation was “a big problem back home”.

“For Nepalese who work here, their families might suffer a lot due to this,” Mr Aryal said.

He said the Nepalese government hoped a solution would be reached soon.

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