Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Minister Imran Ahmad said that the government has started providing financial assistance of Tk 20,000 to each returned female migrant workers to help them being self-reliant in the country
“A total of 3,000 returned female migrants will be brought under the financial support as part of reintegration programme,” he said while speaking at a virtual meeting on “International Conference on Reintegration of Returnee Migrants affected by COVID 19 Pandemic.
It was hosted by Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) in collaboration with manila based organization Migrant Forum Asia (MFA) and the PROKAS Program of British Council.
Imran Ahmad said that of an allocation of TK 700 crore, Tk 146 crore have been disbursed among the migrant workers and the disbursement would reach Tk 200 crore by June.
About database, the minister said that though the government was working to prepare a database of incoming and outgoing migrant workers but migrant workers in many cases were found “not interested to get them registered.”
Economists, academics and migrant rights activists who attended the meeting underscored the need for taking immediate steps by the authorities concerned to ensure the sustainable reintegration of the returnee migrant workers.
They said that preparing an updated and effective database of the returnee migrant workers, allocating adequate funds and adopting time-befitting policy to ensure the sustainable reintegration programmes in the country.
Over 400,000 migrant workers have returned home during COVID-19 pandemic situation and many of them have faced job loss, physical and metal trauma at the destinations.
MFA regional coordinator William Gois said that reintegration should be considered as part of development of the state as their migrant workers were returning home with huge resources including skills, knowledge, potentials and remittances from the destinations.
“What is important is that the state should look each migrant as powerful seed of development,” he said
Former foreign secretary Shahidul Haque said that Bangladesh has been not only the sending country but also it was a prominent country of destination as huge number of foreign nationals were coming and working in the country.
BNSK executive director Sumaiya Islam said that female migrants should given training so that they could be skilled and capable to be self-reliant.
“Returnees database is very important! It will be the prime help to set action plan further for reintegration,” she said.
Under a project of international agencies, BNSK has been making ‘Face Mask” and distributing these different sections of people aimed to stop spread COVID-19 infection.
BOMSA director Farida Yeasmin said that about 50,000 female migrants have returned during pandemic and many of female migrants could not have easy access to government financial support. So a time-befitting policy of reintegration should be taken to address the issues, she said.
Migration specialist Professor CR Abrar who moderated the inaugural session appreciated the government for acknowledging the problems facing by the migrant workers.
He said that there might be different opinions among the stakeholders in migration sector but ultimate goal of all was to uphold dignity of the country’s migrant workers.
WARBE Development Foundation chairman Syed Saiful Haque, BRAC migration head Shariful Hasan, BOAF chairman Nzmul Ahsan, British council’s IBP manager Shirin Lira, migration expert Asif Muneir, ILO officer Rahnuma Salam Khan, Swiss Embassy’s Nazia Haider, among others also spoke at the meeting.