Bangladeshi migrants working in Kuwait want the foreign minister and foreign secretary, who are visiting the Gulf country, to talk to the new emir about their challenges amid the coronavirus pandemic and the issue of workers' visa cancellations in connection to the irregularities of MP Shahid Islam Papul.
"They [minister and secretary] are going to Kuwait with a special message from the prime minister to the new Emir of Kuwait," a foreign ministry official said yesterday.
Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen and Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen flew to Kuwait in a Qatar Airways flight about 11:00am yesterday and are scheduled to return on Tuesday.
They will convey messages of condolence for Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah, who died aged 91 last Tuesday, and of greetings to new Emir Sheikh Nawaf al-Ahmad al-Sabah.
Asked if Momen would hold any bilateral meetings with Kuwait's new emir, especially on labour welfare, the foreign ministry official said there is nothing of that sort planned. However, the issue may be raised if they find it convenient.
Meanwhile, Bangladeshi migrants now in Kuwait and those stranded in Bangladesh say they expect the Bangladesh foreign minister to discuss labour welfare with the Kuwaiti authorities.
Sabur Khan, a Bangladeshi who returned from Kuwait on December 4 last year and was scheduled to return in the middle of March this year, got stranded as international flights were suspended since March 8 due to the coronavirus pandemic.
He said he has an electronics shop in Kuwait, but cannot return as Kuwait has yet to allow Bangladeshis to return. Bangladesh is one of the many countries from where travel to Kuwait remains suspended.
"We are facing huge losses," Sabur told this correspondent. He added that there are some 15,000 Bangladeshis who were stranded due to the coronavirus pandemic. Many of their work permits have expired and they are frustrated.
Meanwhile, the Kuwait authorities have cancelled visas of several thousand Bangladeshi workers who were recruited by Kuwaitia Marafie Group, whose CEO Shahid Islam Papul from Bangladesh and about a dozen others -- both Kuwaiti and Bangladeshi -- are facing charges of human trafficking, money laundering and cheating.
Kuwait's CID arrested Shahid, an independent lawmaker from Laxmipur-2. He was accused of charging each foreign worker, mostly from Bangladesh, up to 3,000 dinars to be taken Kuwait.
Many, however, alleged that they were not provided with the jobs and wages as promised.
The Kuwait authorities are cancelling job contracts of Kuwaitia Marafie Group, which will mean job losses of several thousand Bangladeshis in Kuwait, home to over 300,000 expatriate Bangladeshis.
Jalal Uddin, a Bangladeshi working for a hospital in Kuwait, yesterday said he wanted Foreign Minister Momen to request the Kuwaiti authorities not to cancel visas of Bangladeshis.
"Workers are not responsible for the irregularities, so they should not be victimised," he told this correspondent.