Germany has deported 31 undocumented Bangladeshis under an agreement signed between Dhaka and the European Union for the repatriation of illegal Bangladeshis from 28 member states of the bloc.
According to sources at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dhaka, a charter flight carrying the 31 Bangladeshis from Germany landed at the airport on March 12.
Confirming the matter, a high official at the Wage Earners Welfare Board said on condition of anonymity that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Brac Migration in Bangladesh coordinated the repatriation process, while the International Organization for Migration (IOM) provided the necessary technical support.
“Among the deportees, some are drug addicts who are also accused in criminal cases,” said an official at the ministry.
According to sources at Brac Migration, the Bangladesh-based international development organization provided necessary assistance to those suffered mental stress and frustrations during their deportation. It also provided shelter to those whose families did not arrive to receive them.
Earlier, on December 1 last year, 36 Bangladeshis were sent back to Bangladesh from Germany.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune over phone, Mohsin Hossain, an undocumented Bangladeshi living in Germany, said: “Panic and frustrations have gripped illegal immigrants from Bangladesh ever since the German authorities started to deport undocumented migrants.”
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Md Khaled, director of the ministry’s European wing, said they had primarily estimated that Bangladeshis numbering around 100,000 were now living illegally in different European countries.
Earlier, the German government identified 200 undocumented Bangladeshis living in the country.
“The German government initially sent us a list of 69 illegal Bangladeshis. Of them, 38 people refused to return by saying they would pursue legal steps to legalize their stay in the country. The remaining 31 agreed to come back home,” Khaled said.
Germany is sending back only those who have already completed all legal fights and found there is no way for them to stay there anymore, he added.
EU’s crackdown on undocumented migrants
In efforts to crack down on illegal immigration, stakeholders at an EU meeting in Brussels on June 23 last year decided that nationals of non-EU countries will face restrictions to receiving Schengen visas if they do not take back the asylum seekers expelled from Europe.
During the meeting, the 28-member bloc also agreed to levy visa penalties on countries like Bangladesh, making it more difficult for its citizens to secure a visa to an EU country.
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Later, in September the same year, Bangladesh Foreign Minister AH Mahmood Ali signed the agreement with European Commissioner for Migration, Home Affairs and Citizenship, Dimitris Avramopoulos in New York, for bringing back Bangladeshis living in Europe illegally.
Under this agreement, the EU will not be able to send back more than 100 Bangladeshis in the first six months.
Speaking of the deal, Khaled said: “According to the SOP, European Union can deport only 500 people per year through 10 charter flights, each carrying a maximum of 50 people.”
Incentives for deportees
EU allocated 12.5 million Euros as incentives for repatriation efforts after Bangladesh proposed bringing the repatriation process under a development model that would help address issues such as rehabilitation, funds for providing employment opportunities, and skills training.
Reintegration of returnees
The Bangladesh government recently approved a 3-year IOM project to facilitate the sustainable reintegration of returnees from Europe and improve the overall migration governance space in the country.
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Kazi Anowarul Hoque, additional secretary to the Economic Relations Division (ERD), and Abdusattor Esoev, acting chief of IOM Bangladesh, struck the deal at the ERD office on March 12 this year.
Addressing the signing ceremony, Esoev said: “IOM will work closely with the Bangladesh government and EU to create opportunities for the returning migrants to have a dignified social and economic life upon their return.”
According to data compiled by EU, around 200,000 Bangladeshis were reported as living legally in 27 EU countries, excluding the UK, by December 2016.
However, neither the EU nor Bangladesh has specific information about the number of undocumented Bangladeshis living in the EU countries.