Bangladesh seeks protections for its migrants amid COVID-19

Bangladesh seeks protections

Bangladesh seeks protections

Bangladesh seeks protections: Bangladesh govt is calling for social and legal protection for its migrant workers during crises

Amid the ongoing pandemic crisis, Bangladesh is seeking social and judicial protection for its migrants working in various countries the world. As per media reports, Bangladesh’s Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has called for world government to include migrant workers in their social and judicial protection systems in order tackle the wage gap. According to the Foreign Minister, this measure will help in ensuring that migrants are provided their rights and protections at all stages including ethical recruitment, wages and health benefits.

Bangladesh wants social and legal protection of migrant workers in destination countries during emergency situations such as the Covid-19 pandemic that has exposed the sheer vulnerability of migrants abroad.

This development has come ahead of the UN-led Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) from January 18-24. This year, the forum is going to be hosted by the UAE with the aim of addressing the challenges faced by millions of migrant workers across the world due to the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

According to Bangladesh government’s data, around 4 lakh migrant workers returned home since March in the wake of pandemic crisis. Reportedly, many of these workers were either stranded or returned home empty-handed due to reduced employment opportunities in their destination countries.

For instance, around 1.5 lakh Bangladeshi migrants who are working in Lebanon are living in miserable conditions due to job losses and salary cuts in the aftermath of Coronavirus and rising inflation in the Middle Eastern country. Struggling with job losses, these migrants have been calling on the Bangladeshi government to bring them back to their home country.

As per an International Organisation for Migration (IOM) report public in August 2020, the migrant returnees faced reintegration challenges, such as financial problems and health-related issues. In the absence of source of income, these migrants faced difficulties due to lack of social safety nets in the host countries. At the same time, they were staying in unhygienic and crowded living conditions with lack of sanitation and healthcare facilities which made them highly vulnerable to the virus transmission.

In this regard, Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen asserted that there is a need for revising migration policies to allow sustainable migration management such that workers are provided with necessary facilities in case of an emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic crisis.

Significantly, Bangladesh’s overseas employment sector was the worst-affected sector in the country due to the Coronavirus pandemic crisis. To address the crisis, Expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment ministry has reportedly earmarked Tk 700 crore fund for repatriated workers to support them in the time of difficulty. 

With more than 10 million Bangladeshi migrants working across the countries, Bangladesh has emerged as one of the leading labour-sending nations in the world. In 2020, Bangladesh sent a record 7.5 lakh workers to foreign countries.

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