Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RMMRU) on Tuesday urged the government to set a 2 percent loan interest rate for migrants affected by COVID-19 pandemic.
“The migrants returning home are living in inhuman conditions. They lost jobs, detained, suffered from food crisis because of COVID-19. They were playing significant role in the country’s economy. So, we should prioritise them more than others. Two percent loan interest rate for migrants should be ensured like RMG workers,” RMMRU founding chairman Tasneem Siddiqui was addressing a virtual conference on “The trends of labor migration from Bangladesh-2020: success and challenges”.
She added although 17 percent remittance increased amid the Coronavirus pandemic over the last year, but it’ll decrease in the next year as the migrants could not go abroad this year like the previous year. The migrant workers sent $19.69 billion dollar remittance up to November.
“The remittance has increased this year as it came through a formal channel instead of ‘hundi’ during the pandemic. Besides, gold smuggling also came down. Another reason is that many migrants sent money fearing to lose jobs,” she added.
“Some 3,26,758 migrants workers returned home between April 1 to November 30. Of the force deportees, 39, 274 are women. Around 400,000 workers have been destitute and their families fell at stake due to the pandemic,” Tasneem Siddiqui said.
Earlier, the government formed a Tk 700 crore fund for rehabilitation and re-employment of jobless migrant workers who have returned home after losing their jobs following the COVID-19 pandemic. The affected Bangladeshi workers get investment credit at 4 percent interest under the fund.
However, the Prime Minister announced an allocation of Tk 500 crore to assist premature returnees on May 14, 2020.
The professor of Political Science at Dhaka University said the migrants are main tools in the 8th Five-Year plan to achieve SDG by 2030 but they don’t get priority in stimulus packages.
She also placed some recommendations including demanding in multilateral forums to make immigrant protection policies mandatory in case of emergency. Natural disasters, economic crises, health disasters and all kinds of crises will be part of this policy.
“In order to achieve the goal of SDG-3, it is necessary to include the services of migrants in the health policy of the destination countries. Keeping up the pressure on multilateral organisations to issue a suspension order on forcible repatriation in crisis period,” she said.