Migrant rights activists and civil society leaders have urged the government to allocate enhanced budget for reintegration for the migrants who were coming back home due to impact of corona pandemic coupled with global economic recession.
They also called for big allocation from the revenue budgets for grooming skilled workers in Bangladesh and exploring new destinations for them.
Members of Parliamentarians Caucus, civil society leaders, migration experts, representatives of development partners and returned migrants took part in the virtual conference on Saturday.
It was jointly organized by WARBE Development Foundation, Ovibashi Karmi Unnayan Programme and Institute of Informatics and Development, moderated by Syed Saiful Haque, a global migration expert.
Referring to newspaper reports, IID chief executive Syeed Ahamed in his presentation said that 20 lakh migrant workers of Bangladesh were feared to be repatriated due to corona impact.
He demanded an enhanced budgetary allocation for their effective reintegration and rehabilitation.
OKUP chairman Shakirul Islam said that the past budgetary allocations did never cover direct support or assistance to vulnerable migrant workers.
More than 1.2 million people left Bangladesh for overseas employment and they continued to make huge contribution to the national economy.
‘So sufficient budgetary allocation is needed for their welfare during this pandemic time,’ he said.
Shakirul raised questions about the ongoing humanitarian assistance rendered by the government for the country’s million of migrants in distress abroad.
British Council's Issue-Based Project manager and gender and social inclusion advisor Shirin Lira said that national, international non-government organizations and civil society members would have to work together to address the emerging challenges of COVID-19 impacting migration sector.
She pointed out that there were many incidents of women repression happening amid corona pandemic and the concerned ministries should be involved to protect them.
Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment ministry’s Secretary Ahmed Munirus Saleheen said that about 3,500 Bangladeshi migrants have returned home and a significant number were expected to be coming back to Bangladesh soon.
‘So we are taking immediate, mid-term and long-term programmes for them,’ he said.
In his closing remarks, Chairman of the Parliamentarians Caucus on Migration and Development Israfil Alam MP emphasized taking coordinated effort to reintegrate the migrant workers coming back after losing their jobs abroad due to impact of corona pandemic.
Lawmaker Shameem Haider Patwary proposed that the government could create a public limited company with 49 percent share of migrants to ensure them get benefitted really.
Caucus member Mahjabeen Khaled, Foreign ministry’s director general Nazrul Islam, American Solidarity Center’s senior programme officer Dr Lily Gomes, former BMET director Dr Nurul Islam, BNSK executive director Sumaiya Islam, BRAC Migration Program Head Shariful Hasan, Centre for Development Communication managing director Hassan Imam, Film4Peace Foundation executive director Pervez Sidduqui, Awaj Foundation director for migration Anisur Rahman Khan and WARBE DF director Jasiya Khatoon among others attended the conference.