The International Migrants Day is being celebrated in Bangladesh today as elsewhere across the globe amidst problems the Bangladeshi migrant workers facing, including high cost of migration, abuse, harassment and cheating at home and abroad.
The visa trading and involvement of the middlemen in the recruitment process posed as the big challenges were creating obstacles in the safe migration.
Officials and migrant rights campaigners called for taking concerted efforts of all stakeholders to solve the migrants’ issues to ensure safe, orderly and responsible migration from the country.
On the eve of International Migrants Day, they were speaking at the Seminar on ‘Safe Migration: Quest for Sustainable Development,’ at the Probshi Kalyan Bhaban.
WARBE Development Foundation, Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program and Bangladeshi Ovhibashi Mohila Sramik Association jointly organized the seminar.
Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Nurul Islam who was chief guest at the seminar said that Bangladeshi migrant workers were going abroad to work in search of better life and livelihood.
‘Few of the migrants are facing problems while migration,’ he said, adding that the government has been trying to protect the rights of the migrants.
OKUP chairman Shakirul Islam who made PowerPoint presentations mentioned key challenges of labour migration sector, including absence of structured information management system, inadequate sector-wise manpower in embassies and labour welfare wings, weak referral and legal support mechanisms, weak health support and service system.
He also mentioned that there were challenges like lack of proper trainings and equipments, no institutional measure for reintegration, no information management system on returnee migrant workers, no mechanism to incorporate experienced migrants in the economy of Bangladesh upon return, absence of social reintegration schemes.
Shakil urged the government to ensure ethical, transparent and accountable recruitment process along with allocation of adequate budget for the ministry to extend welfare support and services by embassies to ensure legal supports for migrants.
WARBE Development Foundation chairman Syed Saiful Haque said that along with country of origins, the destination countries must have to take responsibility to protect the rights of the migrant workers at the destinations.
He stressed the need for ensuring safe migration saying that ‘if there is no safe migration, the possibility of development is impossible.’
Saiful, also a returned migrant turned rights campaigner, said that visa trading must be stopped as it was totally unethical. ‘As there is demand of workers in the host countries, so the workers should be sent at the free of migration cost,’ he said.
BOMSA director Sumaiya Islam said that the immense contributions of the migrant workers should be presented properly.
‘Rights should be protected for all documented and undocumented workers,’ she said, making her call for ending gender based disparity among the migrant workers.
Bangladesh Ovibashi Adhikar Forum chairman Nazmul Ahsan said that most of the country’s migrant workers have been harassed and cheated by middlemen who were crating obstacle in ensuring safe migration.
He called for bringing the middlemen under legal framework and stressed the need for strict enforcement of the law to ensure safe migration.
BOMSA chairperson Lily Jahan said that the government should compel the recruiting agencies to extend their recruitment offices at district levels, so that the migrants could get easy information about recruitment.
Ministry’s additional secretary Azharul Huq said that the issue of migration governance has been the shared responsibility of all concerned.
The visa trading and involvement of middlemen the big challenges in migration sector the government was trying to overcome, he said.
According to Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training, over 9.73 lakh workers have so far gone abroad to work since January of the current year and of them female workers accounted for 1.18 lakh.
Most of the workers have gone to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia alone this year, accounting for 5.62 lakh workers.
As most of the migrants have gone to a single country, migration experts deemed that such trend lost diversification of the country’s labour markets abroad.