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Dhaka Tribune

Families face hassle to get burial allowance for dead migrant workers

Update : 04 Aug 2013, 07:35 AM

The government's initiative to ease hassle of relatives of dead migrant workers by handing over Tk35,000 at the Shahjalal International Airport for transport and burial did not work out because around half of the deceased's relatives could not collect the fund on arrival of the corpses at the airport.

Relatives blamed the lack of campaign regarding the disbursement of the money from the Probashi Kallyan (Expatriates Welfare) desk at the airport, leaving them unaware of the facility.

Others claim that even though they knew about the initiatives, they did not have any idea about what was required of them leading to being turned down and adding to their woes.

Md Momin Ullah, of Tangail, went to Shahjalal International Airport to pick up the body of his maternal uncle, Md Babrut Khan, which arrived from Saudi Arabia on June 27, 2013.

"We received the body at night and were told from the cargo park area the money was available from the Kallyan Desk," Momin told the Dhaka Tribune over phone on Wednesday.

He alleged nobody informed about the Tk35,000 financial assistance from the airport. Momin claimed that he went to the desk on July 10 to pick up the cheque but could not because he did not have the proper documents. He brought the papers and went to the desk again on July 29 only to be turned down again.

"I am waiting for an e-mail of marriage registration certificate for verification of my uncle's name as the name on his passport does not match with the name mentioned on my aunt's national ID," Momin told the Dhaka Tribune over phone, adding "we have nothing to do but to meet the office's requirement."

Finally, after verifying his ties to the deceased uncle, Momin went away from the airport with the cheque.

Officials of the Bureau of Manpower, Employment and Training (BMET) admitted there was no organised mechanism in place to inform the relatives about the initiative or the documents of proof they have to produce to get the fund.

In most cases, officials of either BMET or District Employment and Manpower Offices (DEMO) or Wage Earners' Welfare Board informed relatives in a scattered manner.

However, the relatives collect the cheques from DEMO offices if they fail to get it at the airport, the officials pointed out.

Their records shows 7,323 bodies were flown in to Bangladesh from May 10, 2010 to June of 2013. However, relatives of only 3,881 victims picked up the fund at the airport.

A BMET order requires the relatives to produce a union chairman's certificate identifying the recipient of the cheque along with two attested copies of photographs, attested photocopy of his/her national identity card and photocopies of the deceased migrants' passport, death certificates including airfare bills.

"I cannot give away cheques if the relatives of dead migrant workers cannot produce proper documents as I have to follow official order," Jahidul Islam, assistant director of BMET and in charge of the welfare desk, told the Dhaka Tribune over phone.

An official of BMET, requesting anonymity, observed cheques can be distributed without any documents but the BMET order has to be cancelled.

Expatriates' welfare and overseas employment secretary Zafar Ahmed Khan also agreed. "We introduced distribution of cheques from the airport to make the procedures hassle-free."

"I have no objection to distribution of the cheques without documents," he told the Dhaka Tribune on Tuesday.

The secretary supported his stance by saying relatives of dead migrant workers would not lie and whoever goes to pick up the body should be given the cheques.

Previously, BMET and DEMO provided a total of Tk 20,000 to relatives of each dead migrant worker. It took several months or even a year to get the money.

The expatriates' welfare and overseas employment ministry took the decision to provide the financial assistance from the airport to lessen the hassles of the relatives. The Kallyan Desk was launched on May 10, 2010 to distribute the Tk35,000 cheques.

According to BMET website, a total of 8.3 million people have gone abroad for jobs since 1976 to 2012 and during the same period, the country received $1,05,005 million foreign currency as remittance, contributing largely to the national economy. However, there is no accurate data as to how many Bangladeshis are working abroad currently. 

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