417 Returnee Migrant Workers: Nearly half of them remain jobless
A survey by Brac Migration Programme has found that 47.23 percent of 417 returnee migrants do not have any income source now.
As a result, the returnees are living their daily life depending on family earnings, loans, and support from relatives.
The report says 52.77 percent of the 417 respondents to the survey have somehow managed work. Of them, 24.19 percent are working in agriculture, 22.33 percent as day labourers, 35.35 percent opened small businesses and 17.67 percent are working in other jobs.
The survey was conducted in March-April to explore and analyse the socio-economic and psycho-social situation of returnee migrants after one year of their return home during the pandemic.
In a similar survey conducted around the same time last year, Brac found 87 percent of 558 returnee migrants did not have income opportunities, said Brac Migration Programme Head Shariful Hasan.
Copies of the latest report were sent to the media yesterday.
The study found that 98.32 percent of participants were under stress and felt tension due to various issues such as unemployment, inadequate income, and inability to re-migrate.
The respondents to the survey were from 30 districts under seven divisions and 88.01 percent of them were from rural areas. Most were aged 31-35 and 95.68 percent of them were men and 4.32 percent women.
The migrants returned home from different countries, including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, Kuwait, Italy, the UK, and Malaysia.
According to the report, 19 percent migrants said they returned home because of losing jobs, whereas 16 percent were forced to return, 16 percent returned for fear of Covid-19, 12 percent returned permanently, two percent due to illness, and 35 percent came home on leave.
Also, 28 percent respondents said they have debts now. Of them, 61.95 percent borrowed money after returning home, and 25.05 percent had debts previously.
Seventy-two percent of the respondents said they want to migrate again while the rest showed no interest in re-migration.
The report mentions that neighbours of 29.24 percent returnees showed a non-supportive attitude towards them.
Thirty percent respondents feel social stigma towards them still remains regarding the spread of Covid-19 in the country.
The report says the overall psycho-social picture of the respondents could be observed from the fact that the satisfaction of economic life had deteriorated marginally over the period since the lockdown was imposed.
Following the Covid-19 outbreak, both the government and Brac launched different support initiatives for the migrant workers, it adds.
The study recommended that a sustainable reintegration project, including psycho-social support, should be launched for the returnees assessing their short- and long-term vulnerabilities. It suggested making loan products easily accessible to the returnees to engage them in income-generating activities.
The government should extend social protection coverage and safety net programmes to prevent their fall into poverty, it says.
Brac further suggested that the government should increase budgetary allocation for the expatriates' welfare and overseas employment ministry to ensure the welfare of the migrants and their family members and emphasise their inclusion into the government programmes and policies in response to the shock of the pandemic.
Creating domestic employment opportunities for the returnees, especially in the infrastructure development and other public provisions during and after the pandemic, would cushion the employment-related stress for the migrant workers, the study added.
According to the report, nearly 5 lakh Bangladeshis returned home from abroad after the pandemic hit globally last year.
On the other hand, there is no available data on how many returnees have so far re-migrated to their countries of destination.
However, while trying to reach out to 1,360 returnees for the survey, Brac found that 207 of them had re-migrated.
Last year, Biman Bangladesh Airlines and Saudia ferried over 31,316 stranded Bangladeshi migrant workers to their workplaces in Saudi Arabia, the biggest labour market for Bangladesh, in 31 days since September 23.