A pointer to govt’s sustained apathy to migrant workers
IT IS regrettable that the Bangladesh missions abroad do not have any permanent arrangement to help Bangladeshi overseas workers, especially women, in need of a safe shelter. What’s worse, the government does not seem to have any plan to make such arrangements in the missions abroad anytime soon. As reported in New Age on Thursday, the labour attachés in different Bangladesh missions, particularly in the countries where Bangladeshi women workers are employed, proposed during a conference in the capital Dhaka earlier this month that the government should ‘set up safe homes with adequate facilities to properly serve migrant workers facing danger.’ However, the expatriates’ welfare and overseas employment secretary said the proposed permanent shelters could give rise to new problems, e.g. many migrant workers might use these facilities to prolong their stay in a country unnecessarily. Pertinently, as the Dhaka University-based Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit’s founding chair pointed out, many countries such as Sri Lanka and the Philippines have long been skilfully managing such shelters, especially for workers employed in different West Asian countries. Moreover, some Bangladesh missions, particularly in Saudi Arabia and Oman, have had to manage some temporary shelters for some women workers in the past few years.
Currently, more than 85 lakh Bangladeshis are employed in different countries. More than 2.5 lakh of them are women who mostly work in West Asian countries like Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman and Lebanon. Illiterate and employed as housemaids, most of these women workers are generally exposed to different fraudulent practices as well as torture, physical and mental, by middlemen and their employers. Male migrant workers may not be in any better condition. These workers do need the Bangladesh missions to stand by them in their times of need.
The government needs to end its indifference to the proposal in question. After all, the rising overseas job market enormously helps it cushion with the unemployment problem increasing day by day for its wrong economic policies in particular, while remittances sent by workers are a huge source of its hard currency reserve crucial for the economy as a whole.
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