Nepal's President Asks Visiting Qatari Emir To Help Free Student Held Hostage By Hamas

KATHMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepal's president asked the emir of Qatar, who is on a two-day visit to the South Asian country, to help release a Nepali student held hostage by Palestinian militant group Hamas, officials said on Wednesday.

President Ram Chandra Poudel met with Sheik Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani at the president’s house in the capital, Kathmandu.

Al Thani said he would do everything possible to help release Bipin Joshi, the Nepali president’s press advisor, Kiran Pokharel, told The Associated Press.

Joshi was among 17 Nepali students studying agriculture in Alumim kibbutz, near the Gaza Strip, when Hamas attacked Southern Israel on Oct.7. Ten of the students were killed, six injured while Joshi was abducted and taken to Gaza.

Though there has been no information on his condition or whereabouts, Nepali officials said they believed he was still alive.

Hamas’ sudden attack on Israel in October killed 1,200 people and some 250 others hostage were taken hostage. This has sparked a war that has so far killed more than 34,000 Palestinians in Gaza, at least two-thirds of them women and children, according to the local health ministry.

Qatar has played a key intermediary role throughout the war in Gaza. Along with the U.S. and Egypt, the Gulf State was instrumental in helping negotiate a brief halt to the fighting in November that led to the release of dozens of hostages.

Pokharel also said the emir discussed the conditions of an estimated 400,000 Nepali migrant workers residing in Qatar, who mostly work in construction and manual labor. Concerns about working in extreme heat — that could reach over 40 C (104 F) — inadequate living facilities and abuse have risen in recent years.

Human Rights Watch released a statement on Sunday, asking that labor protection for migrant workers be prioritized during the emir’s visit.

The emir said there were programs planned to help Nepali workers find employment in other sectors, Pokharel said.

Al Thani also said his country planned to cooperate with Nepal on building hydropower plants, food production, and in the agriculture and tourism sectors.

The emir's stop in Katamdnu is his last after visiting Bangladesh and the Philippines. He flies home later on Wednesday.