In order to address the hidden costs that accrued in the countries of destination, the government has been urged to pursue multilateralism in the upcoming Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) 2016 which Bangladesh is hosting in December this year.
At a national level Ministry of Expatriates’ Welfare and Overseas Employment and the recruiting agencies have also been urged to take appropriate measures to reduce economic and social costs of labour migration.
Speakers including migrants rights activists, civil society leaders, journalists, returnee migrants and family members of the migrants raised these demands in a public hearing on economic and social costs of migration organised by the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit under the auspices of Bangladesh Civil Society Coordination Committee for GFMD in partnership with Manila based Migrant Forum in Asia at CIRDAP auditorium on Thursday.
Md. Shahidul Haque, foreign secretary, also the chair of the upcoming GFMD 2016 expressed his deep concern about migration of Bangladeshi workers to war torn countries of Libya, Iraq and Syria.
He underscored the need for concerted efforts of government and civil society to establish transparency and raise awareness about safe migration.
In his opening statement C R Abrar of Dhaka University informed that a recent World Bank sponsored KNOMAD study found that low skilled migrants from Sri Lanka to Kuwait spent amount that was equivalent to only one month’s earning in Kuwait, while their Indian counterparts spent amount equivalent to 2.5 months but the Bangladeshi migrants were paying sums that accounted for as many as 9 months of income.
He urged for appropriate policy measures that recognise the role played by sub-agents.
Tasneem Siddiqui as the Chair of the session stated that migrants endured a lot of economic and social costs that are not always acknowledged.
45 migrants and member of their family provided testimonies of the cost that they incurred for migrating. From 2013 to till 2016 highest cost paid by the migrants is in case of Saudi Arabia which is Tk. 12 lac. On an average each paid 350 thousand to go to Middle Eastern countries.
Additional Secretary of MoEWOE Jabed Ahmed requested the migrants to directly come to BMET with complains and also to file cases under Migration Act 2013.
Deputy Chief of the Expatriates’ ministry Rahnuma Salam Khan highlighted that financial cost of migration should not only include initial cost that accrued during departure, it should also take into account the cost of return and other unforeseen cost that migrants bear in the country of destination.
Among others, Joint Secretary Kazi Abul Kalam, head of BOESL, representatives of BMET and representing the apex body of recruiting agencies-BAIRA Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman participated in the discussion.