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Crisis deepens as thousands continue to return home

15,772 migrant workers came back in last 7 days

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Special Correspondent :
Thousands of Bangladeshi migrant workers continue to return home from host countries as their economies are facing contraction amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Around 15,722 Bangladeshi migrant workers returned home in the last seven days, including 4,443 from Saudi Arabia and 4,153 from the UAE.
Among the returnees, 13,649 were male and 2,123 were female workers, according to the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment.
"They came home after losing their jobs in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and thousands more are likely to follow them as they have been laid off in their host countries due to the pandemic," a senior ministry official told The New Nation on Sunday asking not to be named.
According to a data, around 1,81,430 Bangladeshi migrant workers returned home between April 1 and October 7 from 28 countries, including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and other Gulf nations.
Of them, 90,508 workers have retuned home after losing jobs.
"The nation is bracing for a crisis as hundreds of thousands of migrant workers returned home and thousands more are predicted to come back in the days to come as job opportunities in host countries have almost turned dry amid economic downturn triggered by Covid-19 pandemic," Dr. Tasneem Siddique, a migration expert and Professor of Political Science at the Dhaka University, told The New Nation.
She said the government should make necessary strategies to accommodate the migrants who have already returned home
and who are likely to return. "It is the government's responsibility of managing the livelihoods of the returnees and support their families."
Dr. Tasneem Siddique mentioned that the government officials earlier said the returnee workers would be offered training and financial assistance to help them set up their own enterprises. "But as per my knowledge the scheme is yet to be launched. The authorities must understand the severity of the crisis that looms and take immediate steps," she added.
An official of the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment said it was preparing a database of returnee workers to accommodate them in economic activities at home under a government welfare strategy for migrant workers.
"We have created a fund of around $85 million to support the returnees. They will be provided with soft loans through the expatriates' welfare bank to start small businesses to get self-employed here," he said, each returnee would receive loan up to $3,500 without any collateral. "If needed, they will be provided with a fund up to $6,200."
Earlier, the International Organization for Migration warned that due to the global economic and labour 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.
Overseas employment has played a vital role in keeping the Bangladesh economy afloat. Remittances from overseas Bangladeshis contribute around 11 per cent to the gross domestic product (GDP).
Bangladesh's remittances hit an all-time high of US$18.20 billion dollars in the fiscal year 2019-20, according to the central bank statistic.

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