1.55 lakh Bangladeshi migrants return amid pandemic

At least 155,022 Bangladeshi migrant workers have returned home from 29 countries amid COVID-19 pandemic situation, according to government estimate.

The Wage Earners’ Welfare Board of Expatriates Welfare and Overseas Employment Ministry on Saturday said that at least 139,438 male workers and 15,884 female migrant workers came back home from April 1 to September 25.

Return of those migrant workers has been recorded by welfare desk at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in Dhaka, said EWOE ministry officials.

The largest number of 42,000 workers came back home from United Arab Emirates while second largest of 36,000 from Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Besides, substantial number of workers returned from Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, Malaysia and Lebanon, the officials said, adding that they were coming back mainly due to lack of work and expiry of contacts at destinations.

Identifying overseas employment as a key to recovery of the country’s falling economy, the Bangladesh Bank in a report has said that manpower export is still facing risks due to uncertainties already affecting the global economy due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The BB in its April–June quarterly review on September 23 said that the government announced over Tk one lakh crore stimulus packages to tackle the economic fallout from the 66-day COVID-19 shutdown since March 26, according to media reports.

In addition to the timely implementation of the stimulus packages, manpower export would play a critical role in the recovery of the economic growth in the second half of 2020, and in 2021, said the report.

Experts observed that the government needed to  be proactive to deal with the manpower-recruiting countries so that the record flow of remittance — $18.21 billion in the 2019-20 fiscal year — from nearly one crore expatriates working abroad could be sustained in the coming fiscal years.

Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies general secretary Shameem Ahmed Chowdhury Noman on Thursday said that almost no overseas jobs were created over the last five months.

Before the virus pandemic hit the country in March, Bangladesh was able to send only one lakh people to the country’s major manpower-recruiting destinations, mainly Middle-East countries, while another one lakh were ready to fly for their workplaces.

In recent years, seven lakh people on average sought overseas jobs annually with 85 per cent of them in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia alone.     

He expected that the government would manage the COVID-19 pandemic in such a way that no negative impression was created about Bangladeshi workers among the manpower-recruiting nations.

In July-August of FY21, the inflow of remittance increased by 50 per cent to $4.56 billion against $3.04 billion in the same period of the past year.

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