BD to bring back undocumented migrants once shutdown ends
Bangladesh has decided to bring back of undocumented migrants as requested by some countries, once the shutdown over coronavirus ends, according to a decision taken at inter-ministerial meeting at Foreign Ministry on Thursday.
Some countries have asked the Foreign Ministry to take measure immediately to bring back Bangladeshi migrants amid COVID-19 pandemic.
Foreign Minister Dr. AK Abdul Momen, Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmad and State Minister for Disaster Management and Relief Dr Enamur Rahman and secretaries to the relevant ministries were present at the meeting.
However, the meeting discussed various ways of ensuring welfare of the Bangladeshi migrants abroad during the pandemic.
“We want to repatriate Bangladeshi migrants as needed. But we will have to bring them after the lockdown is over. Now the lockdown is until April 14, but if it is extended until April 30, we will have to repatriate them after that,” said the Foreign Minister.
The meeting decides that the Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and Imran Ahmed will jointly write letters to the foreign ministers of Kuwait, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Jordan and Bahrain in this regard.
Imran apprised the meeting that the ministry is sending money to the missions so the migrants in trouble can be taken care of.
According to the Foreign Ministry sources some Middle Eastern countries including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Malaysia and Maldives have continued to release Bangladeshi migrants from jails and asked Bangladeshi missions to take back them home amid COVID-19 pandemic.
In recent time, over 800 Bangladeshi migrants were released from jail by the authorities in the Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Kuwait. Oman government was considering release of several hundred more Bangladeshis from jails, they said.
At least 124 Bangladeshi migrants serving various terms in Kuwait jails were released for deportation.
Maldives handover a list of 63,000 workers of Bangladesh were residing there.
“A huge number of Bangladesh workers were currently working there, however, most of them were undocumented,” the official added.
Following the out break of COVID-19, four international rights organisations including Migrant Forum in Asia, Cross Regional Center for Refugees and Migrants, Pacificwin Pacific, and Solidarity Center urged on the governments in Middle East to stop immediate deportation of migrant workers.
In recent days, about 300 Bangladeshi migrants jailed in Bahrain were released in a bid to control COVID-19, according to Bangladesh embassy in Manama. They said that those Bangladeshis were among 901 prisoners who were pardoned by Bahrain king.
Migrant workers in Saudi Arabia are facing serious problem one third of them have expired their “Iqamas”, the resident cards and work permits. Official said about 7.5 lakh Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia are now in fear of getting deported from the country as their Iqamas expired.
The workers could not renew their work permits due to the Saudization of jobs and the increased fees for renewal of job permits.
According a report 50 per cent of more than 15 lakh Bangladeshi workers in Saudi Arabia lost their jobs on the expiry of their job permits by February 2020, knowing the issue, the Prime Minister Office asked the ministry of foreign affairs and the ministry of expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment (EWOE) to take necessary action.