Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit on Saturday demanded immediate creation of funds to provide interest-free loans or special grants to the families of the migrants who have lost their jobs abroad due to outbreak of coronavirus.
RMMRU founding chair Tasneem Siddiqui raised the demand while speaking at online press conference for protection of the country’s migrant workers amid ongoing pandemic of corona virus.
Referring to newspaper reports, she said over 1.5 lakh migrant workers of Bangladesh have so far been stranded at different countries in the Middle East and they were facing problems losing jobs there due to spread COVID-19.
The RMMRU founding chair said that the government should immediately come up with investment to provide ‘matching grants’ to the migrants with funds from the revenue budget in addition to provide them financial supports from the Wage Earners Welfare Board of the Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment ministry.
‘Because it is not ethical that migrants only get the services from their own welfare funds. The government’s investment is also needed,’ she said.
Tasneem Siddiqui suggested the government to observe the state level mourning for the country’s migrants who have died abroad due to COVID-19 for recognizing their contribution.
The RMMRU proposed an observance of one-minute silence at 9AM (local time) on April 12, 2020 at home and abroad to honour the Bangladeshis succumbed to death by COVID-19, she mentioned.
On emergency basis, the government should protect all documented and undocumented migrants including female domestic workers at the destination countries by ensuring their access to healthcare facilities the Corona crisis, she said.
Positive attitudes should be showed towards migrants who came back home abroad, she said, adding that Corona preventive measures should be taken by upholding the dignity of the migrant workers.
Bangladesh Association of Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA) and other recruiting agencies should come up with good minds to help the poor migrant workers and they should also extend the cooperation with government to overcome the crisis, said Tasneem Siddiqui, who is also senior professor of Political Science at Dhaka University.
The Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment ministry should form a database of the returnee migrants to ascertain numbers of migrants coming back home and taking effective steps for them, she said.
‘The government can consider enhancing incentives on intake of remittance in the context of corona pandemic,’ she said.
In long term recommendations, she said that the guidelines should be adopted to ensure welfare service for the migrants during the global crisis like Corona pandemic.
All of the due wages and arrears of the migrant workers should be realized abroad before sending them back home, she said.
In the post Corona situation, she said that the government should take careful measure to address the irregular migration and trafficking that could take place in coming days.
The skills of the returned workers should be utilized at home after they come back she said, adding that skilled workers should be groomed for overseas jobs considering the demands of skilled workers in the post corona crisis.
The RMMRU urged the Regional Consultative Process including Colombo Process and Abu Dhabi Dialogue to take specific guidelines for protection of migrants after corona crisis.