Bangladesh Civil Society for Migrants, a network of 16 member migrant rights organizations, has submitted a memorandum to the UN Secretary General highlighting the plight of the Bangladeshi migrants amid the Covid 19 pandemic.
The BCSM co-chair Syed Saiful Haque told Migration News that they emailed the memorandum to the UN headquarters in New York, USA and other relevant departments on Monday.
Through the memorandum, the BCSM urged the Secretary General to appeal to those destination countries to refrain sending back Bangladeshi migrant workers who were in irregular status in some destinations.
‘We are concerned that some destination countries are exerting pressure on the origin countries to take back the latter’s nationals who have been deemed to be in irregular status and those in detention and/or prison. It is backed by a threat of blacklisting the origin countries which do not adhere to their wish,’ it said.
The BCSM members said that under international law in any crisis situation it was incumbent upon the state concerned to take care of all people in its land including migrants, irrespective of their status.
The letter said that bringing back migrants in the midst of a pandemic would heighten the risk of the spread of the virus that the concerned country can ill afford.
‘We urge you as the Secretary General to appeal to those destination countries to refrain from pursuing such policy at this critical juncture. ‘
About spread of the contagion among the migrant dormitories due to congested living conditions, the BCSM appealed the UNSG to urge the destination countries to ensure appropriate accommodation of migrant workers in which they could live safely in accordance with the WHO guidelines as much as possible.
The network also requested the UN to take appropriate measures so that migrants can transfer remittances to their families.
As many countries’ employers have terminated the contracts of workers making the latter extremely vulnerable, the BCSM implored the UN to exert the influence of the office of the Secretary General on the governments of destination countries to take the responsibility of this group of vulnerable workers at this time of crisis.
‘A large section of Bangladeshi diaspora is also going through a difficult time. Due to prolonged lockdown those who earn their living through small business, trading, vending and providing their labour in the formal and informal sectors are hard hit. Many require emergency food assistance and access to medical support.’
The BCSM commended the steps of Portugal for extending equal treatment of regular and irregular migrants in accessing healthcare and also of Spain and Portugal for considering regularization workers for specific period who are in irregular status.
‘We appeal to you to invite other countries to take similar measures; particularly to ensure the food security to those members of diaspora who are in distress.’
BSCM urged the UNSG to call upon international agencies such as the World Bank, Asian Development Bank and other development partners to create a global fund under the auspices of the United Nations to support the countries of origin in the rehabilitation of the returnee migrants.
BCSM member organizations include Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit, WARBE Development Foundation, Bangladeshi Ovhibashi Mohila Sramik Association, Manusher Jonno Foundation, Ain o Salish Kendra, BASUG, IMA Research Foundation, International Network of Alternative Financial Institutions, Bangladesh Construction and Wood Workers Federation, Young Power in Social Action, Bangladesh Ovibashi Adhikar Forum, BASTOB, Rights Jessore, Center for Development Communications DEVCOM Ltd, Films 4 Peace Foundation and Change Makers