BRAC, a non-government organisation, has been doing multifarious jobs on migration. It has a large net-work across the country to create mass awareness on safe migration. Migration has become a very imporant sector in Bangladesh in terms of overseas employment, which brings remittances of $14 billion annually by sending around 5 lakh people per year. It is boosting up national economy.
Migrationnewsbd.com, a special news portal in the country, talks to BRAC director for migration Sheepa Hafiza at Brac centre on Monday afternoon. Rabiul Islam took the interview.
Migrationnews: What are doing to discourage irregular migration?
Sheepa Hapiza: Right, it is very unfortunate that our migrants take risk of their lives, and attempt to go to Malaysia on sea route. As a result, our migrants had to embrace watery grave in the Bay. For your kind information, the home ministry and the foreign ministies had known the human trafficking from Cox's Bazar through sea route to Malaysia via Thailand before the mass graves were discovered in the Thai jungle.
As the regular migration was not taking place to the expected level, a large number of middlemen engaged in human trafficking. We held a workshop by bringing victims from various parts of the country. The country’s NGOs, civil society members have already raised voices at national and regional level and they also alerted the government of Bangladesh that a section of people were being trafficked from many areas especially Sirajganj district.
Many families who were victims of human trafficking have raised concerns at press conference in Dhaka.
But unfortunately the governmnet did not appreciate our efforts.
Truly speaking the concerned ministries did not care. Moreover, instead of shouldering own responsibility, one ministry points finger to other ministry.
The government has neither taken action to stop the mass exodus through sea nor fulfilled the people’s expectation about assured employment to Malaysia.
Whenever we requested the expatriates' welfare and overseas employment ministry, it said it is the responsibility of the home ministry.
Such the ministry did not play its due role. Nothing can be so unfortunate like this.
Nationally and regionally we have been raising our voice to discourage irregular labour migration.
We have a lot of activities at the field level to create awareness about the safe migration.
Moreover, we have been taking a five-year plan to do lot of things on migration, especially safe migration.
Migrationnewsbd: Why one ministry showing the other ministry to do the job?
Sheepa Hafiza: There is no co-ordination among the ministries. And it is a common phenomenan in our governance system. There is no inter-ministerial steering commitee. We do not see the ministries to sit together to deliver services to our migrants who birng their hard-earned remittance. The members of civil society have to be included in the committee.
Besides, a powerful regional committee, comprising senior officials from respective governments and civil society members should be immediately formed to monitor the migration activities to help check the illegal migration.
Migrationnewsbd.com: Why did labour migration to Malaysia under government to government system fail?
Sheepa Hafiza: Over 14 lakh aspirants registered names to get jobs in Malaysia responding to the call of the expatriates welfare and overseas employment ministry.
Only 8500 workers have so far gone to the country since last three years.
People were keen to migrate to Malaysia under the government to government (G2G) mechanism.
The failure of G2G has inspired the middlemen to hire rural people to migrate illegally by sea route.
There was no study or review why G2G mechanism failed to deliver between Bangladesh and Malaysia.
The government must manage the labour migration efficiently without creating restriction.
Relevant laws and rules should be amended through reviews to stop illegal migration through water.
Most of the workers going abroad were unskilled, she said, adding that the government should take a decision that no worker would be allowed to go to abroad without training.
On principle, BRAC does not work with human trafficking but it believes that if safe migration takes place, illegal migration will be stopped.