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RMMRU: Expatriates Bangladeshi workers need three years to cover migration costs

  • Published at 07:59 pm December 24th, 2018
Photo: Syed Zakir Hossain/Dhaka Tribune

A total of 6,14,585 workers migrated to the Gulf and other countries from Bangladesh

The Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) said yesterday that the number of migrant workers leaving the country  is likely to fall by 27 percent this year. 

RMMRU in a press conference titled “Patterns and Trends of Labor Migration 2018,” at the National Press Club, said a migrant male worker needs three years to cover his migration costs.

In 2018, from January to October, a total of 6,14,585 workers migrated to the Gulf and other countries from Bangladesh. If the current migration rate continues for the next two months, the migration flow will fall by 27 percent at the end of December this year, RMMRU said.

In 2017, a total of 10,08,525 workers went abroad. Of the total, the number of female workers was 1,21, 925 . Their number will also fall by 20.03% this year due to torture in Saudi Arabia, discouraging many to go to that country, it said.

RMMRU said a female worker has to spend one year to cover her migration costs, while it is three years for a male worker. Most workers go abroad through one or two middlemen.  It recommended bringing these middlemen within a legal framework.

The RMMRU chair, also a professor of political science at Dhaka University, Dr Tasneem Siddikui, said migration has to be free of cost as recruiters from the receiving country pay all the expanses of migration. Bangladeshi recruiting agencies are taking money citing migration costs, she said, calling the practice ‘totally illegal.’

“ Taking money as migration cost will be questioned in international labor courts and other international forums,” Tasneem Siddikui told the briefing.

“ The government has begun working on the issue recently. That is why the government tried to fix the migration cost to various countries. But in accordance with international law, the government cannot fix migration costs as migration is free from Bangladesh to Gulf countries,” she said.

Dr Tasneem said people come to recruiting agencies through middlemen so we cannot ignore the role of a middleman in the process.

“We should keep them (Middlemen) within a legal framework and restrict recruiting agencies from charging huge sums in the name of migration cost,” Tasneem Siddikui said.

Eminent lawyer Dr Shahdeen Malik who was present at the event said Saudi Arabia is not suitable for females to work. Saudis think women are a product to consume. Bangladeshi law can’t change the situation. We should find other alternative labor markets for female workers.

According to the RMMRU, from January to October of 2018, a total of 206, 768 workers, or 33.64% of total migrants, went to Saudi Arabia.

73% of female workers going overseas went to Saudi Arabia.  During the  current year, as high as 1,55,558 workers went to Malaysia, making the East-Asian country the second highest receiving country for Bangladeshi migrant workers, and 63,334 workers went to Qatar, the third largest labour market for Bangladesh, the RMMRU said.

Up to November this year, remittances received from expatriate Bangladeshis amounted to $14.34 billion. If the current rate of sending remittances continues, this year the total amount of remittances may reach $15.64 billion. In 2017, Bangladesh has received $13.53 billion in remittances, the RMMRU said.