Bangladeshi Migrants: Returnees will need healthcare, food, shelter
The most vulnerable of the returning Bangladeshi migrants will require immediate support to meet their needs for food, shelter, and healthcare, said IOM.
"In the medium to long-term, they will require debt mediation assistance, and diversification of livelihoods assistance to build their resilience and ensure sustainable reintegration," said Giorgi Gigauri, chief of International Organisation for Migration in Bangladesh.
In a statement yesterday, IOM said it was supporting the Bangladesh government to "plan for the return, reception, and reintegration of the migrants."
A few hundred thousand Bangladeshi migrant workers are expected to return home from various labour-receiving countries this year once the countries relax restrictions and airlines resume flights, it said.
"For many of these migrants, it isn't a happy homecoming as they have lost their source of income and due to the global recession, it is unlikely that they will be able to return to work abroad until the global labour market recovers from the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic," said Gigauri.
To contain Covid-19 infections, different countries enforced various restrictions, including curfew and shutdown, as well as imposed air travel ban.
IOM, the United Nations' migration agency, in partnership with Brac is focused on providing assistance to vulnerable migrants returning from the European Union countries and looking to secure additional funding to assist vulnerable migrants, particularly those returning from Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries where there have been "large-scale, sector-wide retrenchments following the decline in oil prices", said the statement.
With EU support and under the coordination of the expatriates' welfare ministry, IOM is assisting migrants stranded abroad and vulnerable migrants who have returned to Bangladesh from the EU, it said, adding that 806 vulnerable migrants, returning from the EU countries, have been traced since March.
They were provided with Covid-19-related information, and counselled on how to cope with the adverse impacts of the pandemic, including mobility restrictions, unemployment, and growing debt.
After a needs and vulnerability assessment to identify the most vulnerable, eligible returnees will be provided with an immediate cash grant, long- term reintegration support, skills training, and psychosocial counselling support, IOM said in the statement.
Besides, support and counselling are provided to callers to hotline set up by IOM for migrants and promoted and accessed through www.probashihelpline.com.
Since March, 1,11,470 migrants reached out via the website, either through social media interactions or through app-based calls, it said.
Expatriates' Welfare Ministry Secretary Ahmed Munirus Saleheen said the ministry is involved in many initiatives to support migrants.
Ambassador Rensje Teerink, head of EU delegation to Bangladesh, said the EU stands ready to help governments to address the negative impact of the pandemic -- on the short, medium and long term -- in particular with the most vulnerable communities which include migrants.
Brac Executive Director Asif Saleh said, "… In this crisis, migrant workers are suffering tremendously, and we need to prioritise our support for them both at home and abroad."
In addition to providing support to vulnerable migrants, IOM is supporting the government to respond to the Covid-19 outbreak, build capacity at points of entry, and provide humanitarian support to Rohingya refugees and vulnerable members of the host community in 18 camps and settlements in Cox's Bazar.