Migrant workers who were deported from Saudi Arabia in recent weeks had been staying in the Gulf country illegally, Golam Moshi, Bangladesh ambassador to Saudi Arabia, said yesterday.
Before being sent back, each worker was interviewed by the mission’s legal assistants at the deportation centre because they had issued travel permits, he said.
“We found each of them to be illegal,” he told this newspaper over phone.
He blamed recruiting agencies for misguiding the workers about so-called “free visas”, which did not actually exist.
The migrants, however, believed they could work anywhere with the visa.
The deportees were not found at the workplaces they were supposed to be in. For example, they had a work visa for Riyadh, but were found in Medina, he said.
Saudi authorities had allowed such violations of the law in the past, but they had become quite strict over the past one or two years, Golam said, adding, now the embassy had little to do to prevent the deportations.
Golam also said the mission had written to authorities in Bangladesh on several occasions -- the latest correspondence coming some two weeks ago -- that they should not send workers unless their documents were attested by the embassy.
Usually, the embassy crosschecks a company’s profile in Saudi Arabia if it sends requirement of over 25 workers at a time, he said.
The ambassador said the ministry should blacklist those recruiting agencies responsible for sending workers in such a way.
On the plight of female migrant workers in Saudi Arabia, Golam said it was unfortunate that “some had faced abuse”.
He, however, claimed the number of such female workers was few. About 96 percent female workers had been working in the Gulf country without facing any such incident.
The embassy and its two labour wings in Riyadh and Jeddah are very much alert to the situation of migrant workers there, he said.
Expatriates Welfare Minister Imran Ahmad on Tuesday told the Jatiya Sangsad that they had recently invited the charge d’ affaires of the Saudi embassy and discussed issues regarding female migrant workers with him.
He said a joint technical group of Bangladesh and Saudi Arabia would discuss the issues at a meeting on November 26 in the Middle Eastern country.
The minister said no female worker would be sent there without at least a month’s training. “I hope this problem will be resolved to a large extent,” he said.
215 MIGRANT WORKERS RETURNED
Some 215 Bangladeshi migrant workers returned home from Saudi Arabia on separate Saudi Airlines flights on Wednesday and yesterday, said the Brac Migration Programme.
A Saudi Airlines flight carrying 86 migrant workers landed at Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport at 11:20pm on Wednesday, said Shariful Hasan, programme head of Brac Migration Programme.
Another 129 migrant workers landed at the airport at 1:15am yesterday, he said.
With them, some 6,223 Bangladeshi migrant workers have been deported by Saudi Arabia since October, according to the Brac Migration Programme.