British government 'doesn't really care whether we live or die,' say Gurkhas who fought for Britain

Video report by ITV News Asia Correspondent Debi Edward

When you see the part of Nepal from where many of the Gurkhas hail, you get an idea of where they may have gained their renowned strength and resilience.

Thousands have come from villages nestled in the mountains surrounding the city of Pokhara, in Central Nepal.

It's there that we filmed with the Gurkha Welfare Trust as they navigated their way in a 4x4 over roads churned up by recent landslides.

They were heading to a village to check on a former Gurkha. Due to various lockdowns and restrictions on car movements, they are having to provide door-to-door medical services to them.

The mountainous areas of Nepal where most of the Gurkhas hark from and retired to after serving for the British army

These villages are naturally hard to reach, cut off from the world, but that hasn’t spared them from suffering during this pandemic.

More than 70 Gurkhas (including some relatives) have died after becoming infected, a figure that has almost doubled in the past two months as the Delta variant has taken hold in Nepal and an already-faltering vaccination programme was halted altogether.

Ex-servicemen and even the Nepalese government have appealed to the UK for help with vaccines.

There is anger among the ex-servicemen that they, once again, do not receive the same duty of care as others who served for the British Army.

'The hospital is far and I get car sick if I travel there'

We spoke to Former Captain Purna Bahadur Gurung; he has lost one friend so far and another almost died.

He served in the Queen's Gurkha Engineers for 28 years and his father served for the British Army during the Second World War.

He, his wife, and 94-year-old mother – a Gurkha widow – have all yet to be vaccinated.

Former Captain Purna Bahadur Gurung.

He had expected the British Welfare would step up to help. He told us he feels neglected by the UK government and said it felt to him that he and his fellow retired soldiers are regarded as a 'Wastage Gurkhas'.

He asks - do they care whether we live or die?

The most common words used to describe Gurkhas are courageous and loyal. They have never failed to come to Britain’s aid, and never left a man behind.

All they ask now in their hour of need is the same.

The villages are hard to reach.

What does the UK government have to say?

A spokesperson for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office said: “The UK stands shoulder-to-shoulder with Nepal during this pandemic.

"We were one of the first countries to send life-saving medical equipment there, including 260 ventilators and thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment.

“The UK is also one of the leading donors to COVAX, having committed £548m to the scheme.

"COVAX has already delivered over 1,800,000 vaccine doses to Nepal, with further tranches on the way.”