Bangladeshis in Spain suffering
Many of about 30,000 Bangladeshis living in Spain have been spending days in uncertainty with no source of income as the country has been under a nationwide lockdown since March 14 to contain the coronavirus outbreak.
The financial hardships came off worse for these expatriates who are already in a fear of getting infected with the deadly virus.
Spain is one of the worst-affected countries from the coronavirus pandemic both in terms of fatalities and the number of confirmed cases.
Most of the Bangladeshis living in the Mediterranean country are either wage-earners or mostly involved in small-scale businesses related to tourism, according to a letter recently sent by Bangladesh mission in Madrid to Wage Earners' Welfare Board (WEWB) under the expatriates' welfare and overseas employment ministry.
In the letter, issued on March 23, the mission sought financial support on a priority basis from Bangladesh government to help the expatriates.
The mission also said the local association of Bangladeshi community and other socio-political organisations had identified about 2,000 helpless Bangladeshi expatriates there.
They have started distributing essentials, including rice, lentils and edible oil among those in most need.
As of Thursday, Spain saw 1,10,238 confirmed coronavirus cases and 10,003 fatalities. Of the confirmed cases, 26,743 people were recovered.
The letter also mentioned that some 32 Bangladeshi expatriates in Spain were diagnosed with Covid-19 positive as of March 23. Two of them have recovered from the disease.
Following the virus' outbreak, Spain's government announced countrywide "lockdown" on March 14 and extended it until April 11, according to the mission.
As per the directive, coming out of home except for any purpose except buying food or seeking medical help will be considered as a criminal offence there.
Mutasimul Islam, first secretary at the labour welfare wing of Bangladesh mission in Madrid, told this newspaper that they had collected names and details of about 100 expatriates through whom they want to disburse some financial support.
He said as the movement has been restricted, they were trying to help the expatriates through reaching Bangladeshi community members using different means, including social media.
He also said the government of Spain had announced free coronavirus treatment for both regular and undocumented expatriates.
"The situation is worrisome especially for the undocumented ones and those who were not involved in permanent jobs," he added.
He, however, said there is some respite for the Bangladeshis as Spain government has written off house rents for all in the current situation.
Kamruzzaman Shundar, general secretary of Bangladesh Association in Spain, the association and some solvent Bangladeshis living in the country have come forward to financially support others who are in dire need.
Contacted, WEWB Director General Hamidur Rahman said recently they have disbursed Tk 10 lakh to Bangladesh mission office in Madrid from the board's welfare fund.
Apart from providing dry food to the migrants, the money will also be used for buying protective gears including masks and sanitisers for them, he said.