Bangladesh braced to re­ceive hun­dreds of thou­sands of re­turnee mi­grant work­ers

Arab News - - News Internatio­nal - She­hab Su­mon Dhaka

Bangladesh is brac­ing it­self to re­ceive home hun­dreds of thou­sands of mi­grant work­ers laid off in their host coun­tries due to the coro­n­avirus dis­ease (COVID-19) pan­demic.

Dr. A. K. Ab­dul Momen, the Bangladesh­i min­is­ter of for­eign af­fairs, told Arab News on Sun­day that the re­turn­ing work­ers would be of­fered train­ing and fi­nan­cial as­sis­tance to help them set up their own en­ter­prises.

“We have cre­ated a fund of around $85 mil­lion to ease the plight of the re­turnees. They will be pro­vided with soft loans through the ex­pa­tri­ates’ wel­fare bank to start small busi­nesses here,” he said.

Ear­lier this month, the In­ter­na­tional Or­ga­ni­za­tion for Mi­gra­tion warned that due to the global eco­nomic and la­bor crises cre­ated by the COVID-19 out­break, hun­dreds of thou­sands of mi­grant work­ers would be ex­pected to re­turn to Bangladesh by the end of the year. Ac­cord­ing to the Bureau of Man­power, Em­ploy­ment and Train­ing (BMET), more than 700,000 Bangladesh­is left the coun­try last year to work abroad. The Bangladesh­i Min­istry of Ex­pa­tri­ates’ Wel­fare and Overseas Em­ploy­ment said it was fi­nal­iz­ing the rein­te­gra­tion plan.

“We will have a meet­ing in this re­gard on Mon­day. The re­turnees will be pro­vided with the nec­es­sary train­ing through our tech­ni­cal train­ing cen­ters across the coun­try and later on re­ceive soft loans to get self-em­ployed,” Moshar­raf Hos­sain, ad­di­tional sec­re­tary at the min­istry’s plan­ning and devel­op­ment wing, told Arab News.

Shahidul Alam, an­other min­istry ad­di­tional sec­re­tary, said each re­turnee would re­ceive up to $3,500 without any col­lat­eral. “If needed, they will be pro­vided with a fund up to $6,200,” he added.

Data from Bangladesh-based in­ter­na­tional NGO BRAC in­di­cated that 87 per­cent of re­turnees had no al­ter­na­tive sources of liveli­hood and more than one-third of them would run out of sav­ings in less than three months.

“Al­most all of them re­turned home hastily and were ini­tially promised by em­ploy­ers that they would be re­turned when the sit­u­a­tion be­came nor­mal. But after sev­eral months of the pan­demic, now they have lit­tle hope of join­ing their work again any­time soon as em­ploy­ers are not sure when they would be able to re­sume op­er­a­tions,” said Shar­i­ful Hasan, head of the mi­gra­tion pro­gram at BRAC.

FASTFACT Gov­ern­ment sets up $85m fund to help rein­te­grate ex­pats into coun­try’s la­bor mar­ket.

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