Bangladeshi expats returning home empty-handed

Many Bangladeshi migrants have recently been returning home empty-handed from different destination countries hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic, stakeholders have said.

Josna Begum of Faridpur went to Lebanon in 2009. Her family would run on her income. After the outbreak of coronavirus, she lost her work. She was also infected with coronavirus five months ago. The ill-fated migrant had no passport to return home. With the assistance of the embassy, she returned home in April 2021.

“An economic crisis is prevailing in Lebanon for long. Following the outbreak of coronavirus, the situation worsened further. I could not bring back any money. My husband died several months ago. There is no source of income. I am helpless now,” Josna lamented.

Like her, many expatriates are returning home from different countries after falling into various problems. But the government has no statistics as to how many people are returning home empty-handed. However, the government has data of those who return home with out-passes, meaning with permission.

According to the Expatriates’ Welfare Desk, as many as 63,439 migrants returned home with out-passes in 2020 and 64,638 migrants in 2019.

Some 36,210 migrants returned home till 13 June 2021.

Rights activists, who work for returned migrants, said migrants are sent abroad on false promises and they do not the expected jobs after arrival in the destination countries. Some migrants go to the Middle East with free visas to work on their own initiative. But there is no scope to work other than with the employers in the Middle East countries. So many migrants become undocumented while choosing work with their own initiative. When the matter is detected, police arrest them. Some of them contact the embassy and return home.

Expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment ministry secretary Ahmed Munirus Saleheen said all of those who return home with out-passes, are not empty-handed.

“The economic crisis of some of the returned migrants has worsened. Efforts are on to provide financial assistance to all of them,” Saleheen told Prothom Alo.

Migrant activists said many migrants have lost their jobs due to coronavirus. Those who were involved in small businesses have also lost capital and so are returning home.