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Dhaka Tribune

18 Bangladeshi migrants return from Lebanon

IOM, in close coordination with governments of Bangladesh and Lebanon, facilitated their return

Update : 03 Sep 2021, 06:14 PM

A group of 18 stranded Bangladeshi migrants returned home from Lebanon on Friday.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM), in close coordination with the governments of Bangladesh and Lebanon, facilitated their return. The group reached Dhaka this morning.

Prior to their departure, the migrants underwent a mandatory health check-up, including a RT-PCR test, in Lebanon. They were offered pre-departure transportation assistance and counseling services, and also screened for underlying protection vulnerabilities by the IOM in Lebanon. 

The Bangladeshi migrants were also provided with post-arrival reception assistance in this country and will also receive reintegration support.

This movement is part of a coordinated effort from the Bali Process, through its Voluntary Returns Support and Reintegration Assistance Program, and the IOM’s Cooperation on Migration and Partnerships for Sustainable Solutions (COMPASS) initiative funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, to support and protect stranded migrants, particularly against human trafficking and smuggling.

A recent IOM survey of more than 1,000 migrants in Lebanon showed that nearly half of them wanted to return home, said the IOM. 

With the economy in deep crisis and a political stalemate after the government resigned following the devastating Beirut Port explosion a year ago, embassies have also seen a sharp rise in the number of migrants asking to return to their countries of origin.

Also Read - IOM: 91% Bangladesh migrants would stay home if they had better job opportunities

The results of the IOM survey showed that many migrants have lost their jobs and livelihoods due to the impact of concurrent crises in Lebanon, and an increase in exploitative practices such as non-payment of wages, unfair dismissal, or breach of contracts by employers, have subjected migrants to greater hardship.

“Living in Lebanon has been extremely difficult as we are not able to meet basic needs, nor support our families back home,” said one of the returnees. “Migrants in Lebanon need support to survive and return to their country of origin. I am grateful to the IOM for arranging my return to Bangladesh.”

Mathieu Luciano, head of IOM in Lebanon said: “Many migrants are reaching out to the IOM for help. They have lost their jobs. They are hungry, they cannot access medical care, and feel unsafe. Many are so desperate that they want to leave the country, but they do not have the means to do so”.

There is a clear need to rapidly scale up the IOM’s emergency programs, including voluntary humanitarian return, he added.

“The economic crisis coupled with the Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the vulnerabilities of Bangladeshi migrants in Lebanon,” said Giorgi Gigauri, IOM Bangladesh’s chief of mission. 

“We will continue to work with the relevant governments, donors and partners whose efforts are highly appreciated to facilitate voluntary return and reintegration of migrants in vulnerable situations,” he added.

“The IOM initiated voluntary return support to Bangladeshi migrants from Lebanon after the Beirut port explosion,” said Abdullah Al Mamun, counsellor (Labour) and head of chancery at the Embassy of Bangladesh in Beirut. 

“The Embassy of Bangladesh in Beirut extends its gratitude to the IOM and emphasizes the importance of partnership and cooperation to facilitate the return of more people in need,” he said.

The IOM together with other UN agencies and NGOs have launched a coordinated, multi-sectoral 12-month emergency response plan for 2021-2022 to address the growing needs of the most vulnerable Lebanese and migrants affected by the crisis and provide critical life-saving humanitarian support. 

The $378,500,000 plan, complements the Lebanon Crisis Response Plan (LCRP) and UNRWA programs to Syrian and Palestinian refugees, and the communities hosting them.

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