More than a thousand families in Pakoria union of Tangail faced deception at different stages when they did send or tried to send at least one of their family members abroad, according to a survey by Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit.
The survey was conducted on 5,407 households in nine villages of Pakoria and 11 wards of Elenga. About 40 percent of the households were found to have attempted to send their family members abroad.
Members of 19 percent families failed to go abroad despite making partial or full payments for the migration process. And 32 percent families faced degrading treatment like jail, detention, extortion, blackmail, police harassment, physical and mental torture in the destination countries, according to the survey.
The findings of the survey done with the help of Prokas, a British Council project, were disclosed yesterday at an event “Consultation on Fraudulence in Processing Migration” at Dhaka University.
People from the two areas were found to have migrated to 37 countries.
As many as 693 households suffered financial losses due to their failure in migration attempts. The average loss per household is Tk 2.43 lakh.
Migrants faced degrading treatment mainly in Libya, Maldives, Oman, Qatar, UAE, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Singapore.
Disclosing the findings, the research unit's Founding Chair Prof Tasneem Siddiqui said the unauthorised channel like sub-agents or dalal had perilous role in the migration process of those who were cheated.
In only three percent cases, formal recruiting agencies were involved from the beginning. The rest of the families depended on close family members, friends and sub-agents.
The government should bring sub-agents under a legal framework so that they can be made accountable for fraudulence, Tasneem said, adding that along with low oil price and tightening of fiscal policy in the Gulf and other Arab countries or Brexit in the UK, fraudulence was contributing to the lower flow of remittance.
Prof CR Abrar, executive director of the unit, said the organisation would arrange a series of consultations with policymakers to address the migration issues and find a smooth way for sending workers abroad.
Benjir Ahmed, president of Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies, said it had its own process to tackle sending undocumented workers abroad. The authority also seeks help from related ministry and law enforcement agencies when anything goes beyond its capacity.
Jabed Ahmed, additional secretary of the Ministry of Expatriates' Welfare and Overseas Employment, said the country's migration governance system should be improved.
“For this, we need sufficient data and information about migrants. Findings of the survey will help us make policies.”
Chairing the event, retired appellate division judge Justice Md Nizamul Huq said people involved in fraudulence should be brought to the book.
A number of migrants die each year overseas, he said, adding that “Their bodies return to the country, but we need to find out whether their families get due compensation.”