Migrants stuck in the middle | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, May 12, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 06:01 AM, May 12, 2021

Migrants stuck in the middle

Return of 25,000 in Middle East uncertain as flights are suspended

The return of at least 25,000 Bangladeshi expatriate workers to UAE, Oman, and Kuwait has become uncertain due to the suspension of flights.

In the latest move, Kuwait has banned direct commercial flight operations from Bangladesh and three other South Asian countries on Monday.

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According to sources, several thousand Bangladeshis became uncertain of returning to `their workplaces in the Gulf country due to the decision.

The three other countries are Pakistan, Sri Lanka, and Nepal, Kuwait's civil aviation department made the announcement yesterday.

Cargo flights will remain out of the purview of the suspension.

Expatriates of the four countries have been barred from entering Kuwait without staying in quarantine in a third country for at least 14 days.

A previous notification from the civil aviation department said only domestic workers and health workers were allowed to enter Kuwait on condition of a 14-day quarantine in a third country and after following all necessary health guidelines, including RT-PCR tests.

Earlier on Sunday UAE, a major destination of Bangladeshi workers, suspended entry for travellers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, and Sri Lanka which will come to an effect from today.

The UAE's National Emergency Crisis and Disasters Management Authority and Civil Aviation tweeted, "Suspension of entry for travelers from Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka on national and foreign flights, also for transit passengers, except for transit flights traveling to UAE and bound for these countries."

In late last month, Oman, Thailand, and Singapore had also announced a suspension of regular flights to and from Dhaka to contain the global Covid-19 pandemic in their respective countries.

Thailand on Monday extended the suspension of flight from Dhaka following a surge of Covid-19 in Bangladesh.

Malaysia recently also announced a suspension of regular flights to and from Dhaka to contain the global Covid-19 pandemic.

Sources at Bangladesh Association of International Recruiting Agencies (Baira) and Association of Travel Agents of Bangladesh yesterday told The Daily Star that UAE, Oman, and Kuwait are three major destinations after Saudi Arabia where Bangladeshi migrant workers are recruited in large number.

Fakhrul Islam, former finance secretary of Baira and president of Recruiting Agency Welfare Organization of Bangladesh, said at least 25,000 to 30,000 Bangladeshi expatriate workers were waiting at present to return to their workplaces in UAE, Oman, and Kuwait.

"Their visas and work permits will be expired within the next two months if they fail to go to their workplaces in the three countries," he added.

Shameem Ahmed, former secretary general of Baira told this correspondent that after resuming labour market for Bangladeshis in UAE, around 3,500 to 4,000 workers are going to UAE.

"Suspension of regular flight to UAE from Dhaka will put uncertainty over migrant workers' going to UAE," he added.

Visas and work permits of many migrant workers will expire if the suspension remains valid for a long period, he added.

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