Safe overseas workers, safer economy
According to the Bangladesh's permanent representative to the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation ( OIC) , at least one fifth out of the total expatriate Bangladeshi workers are suffering from hunger apart from gripped by job uncertainty in the Middle Eastern countries. Due to corona pandemic, shutdown is implemented throughout the world which continues to cause massive unemployment problem to the overseas workers. Under these circumstances, in different countries Bangladeshi migrants are struggling to pay their house rent, buy essentials and bear the cost of mandatory Coronavirus tests.
Officials at multiple embassies in the Middle East, the most preferred destination of Bangladeshi overseas workers, agreed that their countrymen are facing multiple crises including food shortage. Especially the condition of the illegal Bangladeshis is terrible, fearing a crackdown on illegal migrants amid an ailing economy.
However, the condition of our migrant workers matters significantly to Bangladesh economy. Bangladesh is the 11th largest remittance recipient in the world, amounting around USD 16 billion annually. No need to say that the crippling condition of Bangladeshi labour market abroad is a bad omen for our economy. Usually our migrant workers face multitude adversities in their path to migration. For example, they have to bear an exceedingly high travelling cost. And then there are unsafe and disorderly recruitment practices and inadequate safety in workplace. In addition they become victim of trafficking, abuse, exploitation and other violations.
Under this condition, the corona pandemic surpasses all other sufferings. This is the time when they need government aid the most since the host countries are not taking their responsibility. If our government fails to initiate immediate and effective policy regarding them, they might starve to death and the economy of our country may suffer heavily in the days ahead since remittance is the second largest source of our foreign currency.
We appreciate that the expatriates' welfare ministry has announced a Tk 4.5 crore fund after different missions requested for resources to provide migrants workers. We also appreciate the scheme taken by Bangladesh Embassy in Saudi Arabia which handed out food parcels to around 8,000 Bangladeshi workers. We expect that workers in Bahrain, Malaysia, Italy and Greece will also get cash support and other necessary support from Bangladesh government. In fact, supporting them in their bad times is also a moral and a patriotic duty.
Providing support to the overseas workers is not only an economic issue but also a humanitarian issue as well. We hope that authorities relevant will take necessary measures to ensure welfare of our expatriate workers.