June 20, 2021

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Expatriates in the dark by lighting the country

Expatriate income has been recorded again after maintaining the continuity of five years. The record of the previous years has been broken in 11 months. The country’s economy is being illuminated by the hard work of expatriate workers. But many of those expatriates are living in darkness. People who migrated with dreams are now looking for a way out of the quicksand of nightmares. Bangladeshi expatriate workers are in dire straits in the Corona epidemic situation around the world.

Experts say that due to remittances sent by expatriates, the government now has the courage to lend to other countries. But those remittance fighters are staying away from the light. The two major sources of reserves are the garment sector and remittances. Although there are many incentives in the garment industry, there is nothing for expatriates. They are urging to adopt various one-time cooperation plans with special allocation for expatriates in the forthcoming budget.

According to Bangladesh Bank, remittances in the first 11 months of the current financial year (up to May 28) have reached a milestone of ৬ 2,281.75 crore. In the previous full financial year, one thousand 720 crore 50 lakh dollars came. An analysis of the 11-month data shows that remittance growth is 36 percent higher than last year. Compared to five years ago, remittances have increased by 7 percent with one month left. A record amount of remittances has arrived in the country under the coronavirus situation.

How are the remittance fighters who are enlightening the country spending their days? It has been known in long talks with the expatriates that the expatriate workers are living an extremely inhuman life on both sides. On the one hand, several lakh workers are stuck back in the country. On the other hand, many have lost their jobs in exile. Again, some people are running away legally and illegally. All of them are now off the path of income.

Al-Amin Erfan, a resident of Narsingdi, immigrated to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) last January. As soon as he arrived, he handed over three lakh rupees to the broker with the assurance that the work would be done and the visa would be done. He took the risk of turning on the lights in the needy house. But now he is on his way to the UAE after breaking his dream. No work, no visa. On the contrary, the money earned in a few months has also been manipulated by the middlemen.

Al-Amin told Kaler Kanth on Monday from Sharjah, UAE, that the broker had promised to give him a work visa in the first month. Despite knowing the risks in that hope, he left for the UAE. But when he went there, he saw a different form of broker. Nowadays, four months have passed. He handed over another three thousand dirhams (about 60 thousand rupees) to the broker for the visa. After that, the broker did not catch him. A total of seven people including him have gone missing after falling into the clutches of the broker. Everyone is now on an uncertain path.

Mosharraf Hossain, a resident of Bajitpur Upazila in Kishoreganj, lives in Kedah, Penang State, Malaysia. Although he has been in the country for eight years, he does not have a valid visa at the moment due to the situation. Corona has not been working for several months due to the situation. In this situation he is living an extremely inhuman life. “I can’t remember exactly how many days ago I ate rice,” Musharraf told Kaler Kanth. There has never been such a difficult day in exile. There is no way back to the country. And what to do after returning to the country. So I am running away from all the hardships in the mountains and forests. ‘

It is learned that the Malaysian police have again arrested illegal immigrants by increasing the number of ‘detention centers’. Malaysian media quoted Interior Minister Hamza Zainuddin as saying that arrests of illegal immigrants would continue despite the ongoing lockdown. The Immigration Department is conducting these activities jointly with the National Registration Department (NRD) and the police.

It doesn’t work, the announcement to continue arresting him has created a frightening situation among Malaysian expatriates. Nuruddin, an expatriate from the state of Selangor, told Kaler Kantha that eight of them live in a mess together. All six do not have valid visas. They have been defeated by the middlemen. They have already lost their jobs due to coronavirus. If the arrests continue, we will have to read more.

Meanwhile, misery has also descended on the families of many migrant workers. Faruk Ahmed, son of Zafar Ahmed of Rajapalang Union in Ukhia Upazila of Cox’s Bazar, lives in Qatar. Farooq used to work in a restaurant in the capital Doha. The country went into a severe lockdown in the second week of April due to an increase in corona infections. The restaurant is closed. Farooq lost his job.

Zafar Ahmed told Kaler Kanth on the telephone, ‘My son is the only source of livelihood in the family. Not long ago he went abroad. The loan he took to go was not repaid. He lost his job and fell into disarray. Our condition is also very bad. I don’t know what will happen to us. ‘

When contacted, Farooq told Kaler Kantha from Qatar, ‘I did not get the job back. I have fallen into a situation where even proper food is not available. I can’t get any new job. There is no chance to return to the country. Because I had to pay a lot of debt to come abroad. How will I repay the debt back in the country, the world or the way to run.

Meanwhile, the number of workers returning home empty-handed after losing their jobs in the Corona situation is not less. According to the Expatriate Welfare Desk at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport in the capital, about five lakh expatriate workers have returned to the country since April last year due to various reasons including losing their jobs. A study by the non-governmental organization BRAC found that 53 per cent of these returning workers are trying to earn a living by engaging in small jobs, including day labor. The remaining 48 percent have no way of earning.

However, the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment has claimed that there is no accurate information about the number of workers returning to the country. Ahmed Munirush Salehin. He said, ‘The number of workers returning to the country living a dehumanized life may not be high, but we are acknowledging the issue. And we are by their side. The government has plans to provide financial assistance to those in distress at this time. It can be a loan facility.

Dr. Salehin said the biggest challenge is not having the right database. Although plans have been made to rehabilitate the distressed expatriate workers, it has not been possible to take specific steps to help them due to lack of accurate information. Initiatives will be taken to help the needy by creating a database of returning workers soon.

Syed Saiful Haque, chairman of the Welfare Association for the Rights of Bangladeshi Immigrants (WARBI), called on the government to take initiative in this situation. He told Kaler Kantha that no worker goes abroad illegally. They became victims of the situation and became illegal. Those who are not getting salary or allowance or have become unemployed back in the country, all of them should take concerted initiative. With one-time special assistance, they may be able to turn around.

Saiful Haque further said that thousands of crores of rupees have been lost in various scandals including Hallmark. But there is no special allocation for expatriates. Low interest loans were arranged for the expatriates. That didn’t work very well.

Regarding the continued arrest of illegal immigrants in Malaysia, Syed Saiful said the government’s action in this regard is urgent. The government can hold bilateral talks to ensure the safety of Bangladeshi migrants.