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Foreign-return workers in trouble because of Covid-19 

Most of the Bangladeshi workers have lost their jobs in abroad for Covid-19 pandemic and become mentally and financially helpless. Among the foreign workers who have returned to the country are still remain unemployed. As a result, the foreign return workers have faced great trouble due to Covid-19 cases.

The government has taken several steps for the welfare of this large number of foreign-return workers during the coronavirus outbreak. However, the benefits of the measures have yet not reached to them.

BRAC’s Migration Programme, a non-governmental organization, released a survey report in March-April last year talking to expatriate workers returning to the country after the global coronavirus outbreak began. A new survey is conducted to find out how much the situation improved after one year. Last year, 87 percent of the returnees said they had no source of income. This time, it was learned that 52.77 percent of the respondents have been able to involve themselves in works. Of them, 24.19 percent have been involved in agricultural work, 22.33 percent have been involved in day labor or similar work. 35.35 percent has started small businesses. Besides, 17.67 percent are doing other works.

According to a survey on ‘Exploring and Analyzing the Socio-Economic Situation of Foreign-Return Expatriates’, 47 per cent of the expatriate workers who returned to the country a year ago are still unemployed due to the Coronavirus situation. Many of them have to rely on their families to run their daily expenses. 53 percent are currently working in agriculture, small business or labour. 98 percent are worried about their future.

The government paid Tk 5,000 to each of the expatriate workers who returned home during the lockdown last year. Then a loan of Tk 200 crore was announced for the returning expatriate workers. This loan is to be given at the rate of 4 percent. Apart from this, new initiatives were taken for another loan of Tk 500 crore. But many are being deprived of it because there is no list in this regard.

According to the Wage Earners Welfare Board, the government plans to set up a fund of Tk 17,000 crore for the welfare of expatriates. The money of this fund will be used to rehabilitate the expatriates. This fund will support any initiative. Money will not be refunded. For this, talks are underway with the donor agencies. However, due to lack of proper list, this initiative is not working.

Concerned parties say that the government does not have an accurate list of expatriate workers who return home during the coronavirus pandemic. So their participation in many government initiatives cannot be confirmed.

It was learned that in this situation, the Ministry of Expatriate Welfare and Overseas Employment has taken an initiative to register the foreign-return workers.