About 500 migrant workers along with their rights activists on Tuesday demanded enhanced budgetary allocations in the upcoming national budget for expediting welfare activities to the country’s migrants and their family members.
They called upon the government budget for introducing ‘state sponsored migration’ for better regulation of the recruitment process.
They also called for allocating sufficient development budgets for extending healthcare, education and special safety net program for the sick and vulnerable migrant workers who were returning home at empty handed.
The migrants and the activists made the remarks while speaking at National Consultation on Migrants' Budget in the eve of the imminent Budget Session 2018 -2019.
Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Program (OKUP), a community-based migrants’ rights organization organized the consultation at the Diploma Engineers’ Institutions in the city.
About five hundred returnee migrants including male and female workers from different districts attended the consultation and they raised their demands with slogans to increase budget for welfare of migrant workers.
‘Upholding dignity and ensuring justice …are ….the rights of migrant workers,’ they echoed.
Speaking as chief guest, Parliamentarians’ Caucus on Migration and Development co-chair Hosne Ara Lutfa Dalia MP said the country’s migrant workers were playing important role in keeping the economy vibrant.
‘So the demand for better treatment for the migrant workers and better education for their children should be very rationale,’ she said.
The lawmaker, however, pledged that she would put up the migrants demands at the National Parliament as notice for taking necessary actions.
Wage Earners Welfare Board director general Gazi Mohammad Julhas said that the government was well informed of the problems of the migrant workers facing at home and abroad and gradually it was taking measures.
He dismissed the allegations that the government ignored the issues of the migrant workers.
Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training additional director general Rafiqul Islam said that migrant workers were employed in 165 countries and they were called golden sons of the country for their huge contribution to the economy.
Shahjalal, a migrant from Narayanganj, said that the poor migrant workers were going abroad by selling last resorts of properties and often they returned home at the empty handed.
‘My demand is that the government will provide migration cost so that workers donot require selling the lands,’ he said.
Rabeya, another female returnee migrant, from Narsingdi said that she went to Lebanon by keeping her so sons at a local orphanage. After returning home empty handed, she is unable to give them education.
Rabeya appealed to the government to ensure food, education, healthcare and jobs for the children of the migrant workers.
In his presentation, OKUP Chairman Shakirul Islam made specific recommendations including Allocations for ‘Government Paid Migration’ for better regulation of the recruitment process, Allocations for improvement of protection and welfare of the migrant workers abroad, Allocations for healthcare of sick migrant workers and Allocations for special safety net program for vulnerable migrant workers.
As panel discussants, WARBE Development Foundation chairman Syed Saiful Haque blamed reluctance of the ministry expatriates welfare and overseas employment in placing budget as they were proved unable to execute the budget properly.
He identified visa trading as big challenges in the migration section.
BRAC migration head Shariful Hasan said that it was needed to enhance budgetary allocations for remittances earners to protect their interest with top priority.
BOMSA director Sumaiya Islam demanded budget allocations for the migrant workers for upholding their due dignity and protecting rights.
INAFI Bangladeshi executive director Atiqun Nabi said that the government must evaluate the situation of the remittances earners and their family members and allocate sufficient amount in the development budget for their welfare protections.
Audrey Maillot, Team Leader – Governance, Delegation of the European Union to Bangladesh said in his speech said that migration should be a win-win pattern where both communities and countries would get equally benefited. ‘Unfortunately it is far from being as simple as that.’
OKUP Executive Director Omar Faruque Chowdhury said that migrant workers and their famiies were always neglected at every sphere of the society.
‘We strongly demand that the government would have to allocate direct budgetary funds for protection of the rights of the migrant workers,’ he said.