16,000 migrants back home, 1,106 lost lives abroad
Published : Tuesday, 23 June, 2020 at 12:00 AM Count : 428
At least 16,000 Bangladeshis have returned home from different countries due to the global impact of Covid 19.
Meanwhile, a total of 1,106 expatriate Bangladeshis have so far died of coronavirus in different countries.
Of the returnees, around 75 percent (three-quarters) were picked up from public places, detained and forcibly returned while one tenth has returned voluntarily (mostly from Malaysia) and the rest came on leave or employers sponsored return for security (mostly from Malaysia), according to a study report.
The report was tabled at an e-symposium titled 'The other face of globalization: Arbitrary Return of Bangladeshi Migrants and their unpaid dues' held in Dhaka on Monday.
A research body, the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) organized the e-symposium on Covid 19 and Migration.
Founding chair of RMMRU and Dhaka University Professor Dr Tasneem Siddiqui presented the study report while its Executive Director Prof Dr CR Abrar moderated the programme.
According to the study report, around 26 percent of the returnees don't have any outstanding payment while 74 percent left behind a significant amount of resource in destination countries.
A substantial majority of that was unpaid wages. In addition, cases were reported in which migrant lost money as they gave loans to friends from other countries and paid for visa renewal etc.
In a case study mentioned in the report, a returnee migrant Md. Atiq, 55, said he had been working in a steel factory for 14 years. As part of his payment procedure, he used to get a small amount per month and after a while the owners used to clear all dues.
"I have an outstanding amount of around Tk5 lakh including wages of last two months," he added.
Belal (41), a returnee from Saudi Arabia said his visa would expire this June. He has given 3,000 Saudi Riyals (Tk. 70,000) to a Pakistani friend for visa renewal. "As I was picked up suddenly, I could not contact him again and lost the entire money," he added.
According to the report, each year more than 7.00 lakh Bangladeshis get employment through international migration.
The infection and death rates are generally higher than locals and they had to face discrimination in accessing health care.
The Bangladesh government is now under pressure from the Gulf and other Arab countries to bring back its workers on the pretext of irregular migration status or vacate the jails and detention centres, it added.
Lawmakers Shirin Akter, Aroma Dutta, Expatriate Welfare Secretary Dr Ahmed Munirus Salehin, Foreign Ministry's Director General Nazrul Islam, Manusher Jonno Foundation's Executive Director Shahin Anam and Migration in Asia's coordinator William Gomez also spoke on the occasion.
The speakers urged the government to ensure recovering the arrears of the migrant workers and protection of all Bangladeshi migrants working in different countries including the Gulf countries.