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Covid chaos: 70% migrants in Bangladesh struggle for work

Covid chaos: 70% migrants in Bangladesh struggle for work

Nearly 70 per cent of surveyed migrants who returned to Bangladesh from abroad between February and June 2020 are still unemployed, said a survey conducted on returnees in 12 districts across the country.

The survey released on Wednesday in coordination with the government of Bangladesh was conducted in May and July in 12 high migration-prone districts, seven of which share border with India.

The findings were presented in a report titled "Rapid Assessment of Needs and Vulnerabilities of Internal and International Return Migrants in Bangladesh", according to the International Organisation of Migration (IOM).

The report said that returning migrants experienced reintegration challenges, which included difficulties in securing employment, financial problems like lack of income and accumulating debt, and health-related issues.

Unplanned, large-scale return of unemployed migrant workers affect the remittance-dependent communities across the country where each migrant worker supports three members of his or her household on an average.

The report listed findings from interviews with a total of 2,765 returnee migrants, including 1,486 international returnees and 1,279 internal returnees.

Migrant workers are particularly vulnerable to the impact of the Covid-19 crisis, and since March 2020, hundreds of thousands of international migrant workers were compelled to return to their home districts in Bangladesh due to limited access to income-generating activities, social services, healthcare systems and social support networks in the countries in which they were working prior to the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, said the report.

Giorgi Gigauri, Chief of Mission of IOM in Bangladesh said, "Migrant workers are some of the most vulnerable groups affected by the Covid-19 pandemic."

The research will support the government-led efforts to develop evidence-based strategies to ensure sustainable reintegration for returning migrants. During this pandemic, research will support the development of responsive, migrant-centered approaches essential for the support and protection of vulnerable migrants, said the Chief of Mission.

A total of 64 per cent of international migrants indicated that following the Covid-19 outbreak, they struggled to access information and health services in the countries in which they were working in.

A total of 29 per cent of respondents indicated they had returned to Bangladesh because they were asked to leave the country they were in, and 23 per cent reported that they were worried about Covid-19 and wished to return to their families.

Moreover, 26 per cent of respondents reported that they had returned because their families had asked them to, and nine per cent returned because they were told that the borders were going to be closed and they were worried that they would be left stranded.

At the time of the interviews, a total of 55 per cent of the respondents who had returned from abroad had accumulated unpaid debt..