GFMD should take more right-based approach to protect migrants in pandemic

The Global Forum on Migration and Development (GFMD) should take more right-based approach and include protection measures in the migration policies in order to protect the migrants during the pandemic.

During the trying times of Covid-19, the migrant workers, including Bangladeshis, have lost their jobs and were in great difficulties as they were not covered by the social safety nets of the countries of destination.

Bangladesh Foreign Minister Dr. A.K. Abdul Momen made the remarks while speaking as chief guest at the virtual pre-GFMD 2020 National Consultation on Tuesday (January 5, 2021).

The Parliamentarians’ Caucus on Migration and Development, WARBE Development Foundation and British Council’s PROKAS organized the consultative meeting prior to the 13th GFMD Summit.

A.K. Abdul Momen said that a large number of migrant workers were living or forced to live in crowded environment which were risky for transmission of the virus.

”As such, in order to see effective international governance of migration and to address the gaps to protect migrants, GFMD should take more right-based approach and include protection measures in the migration policies.” 

He said that migrant workers need to be included in the social and judicial protection system of the countries of destination to address the gap.

“We need to ensure migrants’ rights from the early stage of ethical recruitment to wage, health and job protection. For that to happen, international community should play key role through platforms like GFMD so that migrant workers are well covered by legal mechanisms in the host countries. In addition, we firmly believe that GFMD can play a crucial and proactive role in effective implementation of the Global Compact on Migration (GCM) which is landmark initiative for migrants’ protection.”

The United Arab Emirates, the current Chair of GFMD has identified six themes for the upcoming GFMD summit with a key objective to remain future focused, to establish partnerships and cooperation between countries and other stakeholders. All these themes have special significance, in particular in the context of post Covid-19 period.

“We equally emphasize on the importance of regional perspectives on migration which will be considered during the summit roundtables for the first time and I applaud UAE’s lead in organizing five online regional consultations,”  said the foreign Minister 

Momen said that Bangladesh appreciates the UAE’s initiative through which GFMD Migration Lab has been used to identify opportunities to use partnerships to tackle migration-related challenges and investigate options for putting them into practice.

“I would like to draw your attention to a historical fact. Migrants are never a burden. They are the partners of development, engine of creativity and innovation. They create jobs and help the growth of the economy,” Foreign Minister said.

Parliamentarians’ Caucus on Migration and Development chairman Barrister Shameem Haider Patuwary MP who moderated the inaugural session said that the caucus has been playing important role in local, national and global level to protect the migrant workers.

Not only at the national parliament of  Bangladesh, the caucus has been also working to get the parliamentary caucus mechanism introduce at the GFMD and at IPU where the voices of the migrant workers would be heard at a bigger platform.

Caucus secretary general Mahjabeen Khaled in her written statement said that “We have noticed that COVID has imposed a significant threat to the migrant workers all around the world especially, in the Middle east and in many other countries.

“The migration issues were not addressed responsibly and cooperatively. We saw many Bangladeshi migrants were shipped home or left to fend themselves. The situation of migrant workers has changed and we need to think deeply and think differently.”

Mahjabeen Khaled, also former MP, said that although the role of the parliamentarians in promoting and protecting migrant rights were getting stronger and reinforcing, much still remains to be done.

She said that the Parliamentarians Caucus on Migration and Development along with other stakeholders have been advocating for mutually reinforcing relationship between migration and sustainable development.

“This is the time during COVID , our Government along with other agencies must take immediate steps to develop an inclusive, equitable long-term action plan to socially and economically reintegrate our migrants, returnee migrants, future migrants and re-migrants as to their safe, smooth and lawful migration status, ” she said.

Benjir Ahmed, MP, President, Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (BAIRA), Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen, Former Foreign Secretary Md. Shahidul Haque, senior officials, civil society leaders, representatives from different national and international organizations also spoke at meeting.

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