Bangladesh’s permanent representative to the United Nation Rabab Fatima called for global solidarity and cooperation and “strong political will” to address the challenges of the migrants who are disproportionately affected by the COVID 19 pandemic globally.
Underscoring that the pandemic has exposed as well as exacerbated the vulnerabilities of the migrants as in many places they are denied of their rights, access to urgent health care services, and even jobs, she said that “the migrants are front line contributors even during the pandemic in their host countries and they must be included in the response and recovery packages and plans”.
Expressing her concern that migrants are even being forced to return, the PR mentioned that for many developing countries managing the returnees is a huge concern and the national efforts must be supported by the UN and other international development partners and stakeholders.
The PR was addressing a virtual high-level meeting of the Group of Friends of Migration entitled “Migration in the time of COVID 19: Migrant Health and Remittances”, according to a press release issued on Saturday.
Bangladesh is the co-convenor of the Group of Friends of Migration along with Ireland, Mexico and Benin.
The Minister of International Development and Diaspora of Ireland, Mr. Ciaran Cannon T.D. participated in the meeting which was also attended by a considerable number of delegations at the ambassadorial level both from the migrants- hosting as well as migrants-sending countries, Dr. Mahmoud Mohaieldin, UN Special Envoy for SDG Financing, high level representatives from the IFAD, WHO and other UN agencies.
There was a lively discussion in the meeting and the speakers recognized the importance of migration and remittances in development, poverty reduction and women empowerment. They opined that the impacts of the pandemic on migration and remittance would affect the developing countries severely.
Referring to the World Bank projection about over 20% decline in remittances in the low and lower middle-income countries, the PR of Bangladesh warned that it would have drastic consequences and would drive many remittance receiving households in the developing world to poverty.
Ambassador Fatima welcomed the Secretary General’s brief on “people on the move” highlighting the disproportionate impact of the COVID 19 on migrants. She also commended the initiatives of some countries to remove barriers and facilitate migrants’ access to labour market, social protection, and basic services during the pandemic. In addition, the PR welcomed the Joint Call to Action on Remittances in Crisis by Switzerland and the UK that recognizes the importance of keeping remittance flowing to the home countries despite the likely Covid-induced recessions.
Ambassador Fatima reiterated that international community must work on re-creating conditions for continuity of migrant workers' contribution to economies and societies, and anything contrary to that will lead to the rise of illegal migration and human trafficking.
The participants were unanimous in their views that there must be policy steps to make migration a viable development tool in the post COVID recovery efforts. They also suggested that the implementation of the Global Compact on Migration would address the existing policy gaps in migration management.