The government is likely to finalise the draft of Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) to bring back irregular Bangladeshis from Europe by August.
The Foreign Ministry has sent a letter to the European Union (EU) to meet its delegation for the arrangement of repatriation.
An official of the ministry said: “We don’t want thousands of Bangladeshis living in different countries of Europe with valid papers to face problems for some irregular immigrants. Besides, the matter is also tarnishing our image.”
“We have sent a letter to EU requesting to hold talks, so that the draft of the SOPs can be finalised by August,” the official added.
According to EU data, about 200,000 Bangladeshis were living in 27 European countries (excluding the UK) with proper documents for residence and employment as of 2016.
The EU Bloc issued 26,000 residency permits to Bangladeshis in 2014, 21,000 in 2016 and nearly 25,000 in 2016. However, as of June this year, only 4,100 Bangladeshis have received the permits.
Also Read- Bangladesh under threat of EU visa restrictions
Regarding the lower number of residency permits granted, another official of the Bangladesh Foreign Ministry said: “The reason behind the reduction in permit issuance is that many irregular Bangladeshis are currently staying in Europe, especially in Italy.”
EU statistics revealed that over 8,000 Bangladeshis intruded into Italy in 2016, with more than 8,500 having entered the country illegally this year, as of July 19.
As a result of the increase in intrusions, the EU has urged the Bangladesh government to arrange for the repatriation of illegal Bangladeshi immigrants living in EU member countries.
The Foreign Ministry official added: “Some 17,300 Bangladeshis sought political asylum in Europe till 2016. Among them, 11,800 were rejected and most of the remaining applications will also possibly be rejected.”
Also Read- A passage to Italy: The Libyan connection
“Those whose applications were rejected have no right to stay in Europe. They will be brought back here after verifying their nationality,” he added. “No one has the exact statistics on the number of illegal Bangladeshis living in European countries.
“Bangladesh’s embassies in different European countries issued about 4,500 travel permits from January, 2015, to March, 2017, to bring back irregular Bangladeshis,” said another official.
“The government is not insincere in bringing back irregular Bangladeshis, as it tarnishes the nation’s image and puts Bangladeshis with permits in trouble. Furthermore, EU countries are taking a tougher stance in giving residency permits to qualified Bangladeshis as a result of the irregulars,” he added.
Also Read- A passage to Italy: No other options
The ministry official further said that the legal system of certain EU countries sometimes created problems with repatriation, as a person cannot be repatriated without verifying their nationality.
“Some irregular Bangladeshis could not show any passport, NID or driving licence for verification of their nationality. It becomes tough to identify them if they give the wrong address,” he said
He also identified the behaviour of some Bangladeshis facing deportation as a roadblock to repatriation.
“Some Bangladeshis start shouting and even attack someone when they are brought to airport for deportation. Some airlines do not allow such passengers to board,” the official said.
This article was first published on Bangla Tribune