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No effective diplomatic move visible even when migrant workers returning losing their jobs

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16th-May-2020       
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Bangladesh faces the challenge of massive job creation as several lakh migrant workers are likely to return in the coming months following a sharp decline in overseas jobs due to the coronavirus-induced global economic slowdown. The majority of Bangladeshi workers in the Gulf and Southeast Asian countries, which host some 80 lakh of the country's more than crore migrant workers, have become jobless. Undocumented workers, who work on a daily basis, are facing more difficulties with no earnings. They have been depending on food assistance either from the Bangladesh missions or local charities. The undocumented migrants are the first to get hit by the lockdowns enforced by different countries to check coronavirus contagion. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain, and Qatar have already asked Bangladesh and other South Asian countries to take back the migrants now staying in jails and deportation centres. Some of the countries, including Kuwait, have declared amnesty to allow undocumented migrants to return home without penalty.
Over the last few weeks, some 4,000 undocumented Bangladeshis were repatriated from jails and deportation centres in the Middle East, while another 29,000 are expected to arrive in the coming weeks. Alarmed by the situation, the government has instructed the Bangladesh missions, mostly in 11 Middle Eastern countries, to begin diplomatic efforts with the host countries so that migrants are not laid off. If there is no alternative, the governments should make sure that laid-off migrant workers get at least six months' salary. If the pandemic comes under control by June, migrants will try to stay and continue to work. If it goes beyond, they will be frustrated and decide to return home in large numbers. Many of the development projects will go for job cuts and migrants would be the most affected. As migrants will return home and aspirant migrants won't be able to migrate for overseas jobs, it will create huge pressure on the domestic job market.
When some seven lakh out of 20 lakh young people go abroad for a job each year, the looming unemployment would mess the country's economy. Quick and efficient diplomatic efforts are very much needed to save our remittance warriors from obvious disaster.

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